Medical Tourism

It is beyond  cliché that our world today is a global trading and market place.

Rapid development in all areas of medical treatment and cooperation  between different countries have steadily risen over the past several years. What were considered far-fetched dreams, such as traveling to a foreign country to meet your medical needs have since become the norm today. Thanks to the internet and the much easier manner in which the world communicates, people can conveniently travel to the specific country of their needs.

Market research and estimates show that the relatively recent concept of medical tourism amounts to several billion dollars per year. Market share of medical tourism in both critical care as well as elective medical procedures is expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future. For some countries, medical tourism as a growth industry provides them the opportunity to flourish and nurture developments in the medical field, and hence have invested  much effort and capital in attracting potential patients.

 There are a few standard reasons why people usually travel abroad for their medical purposes. Among them:  

  • 1. Quality medical treatment – The country they reside in fails to provide and meet the standard of  treatment they want, hence their travel to a medical center which may be known for it’s success and quality. Classic examples are New york’s Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital and The Mayo Clinic of Rochester Minnesota, both  widely known for their treatment of patients arriving from all over the world.
  • 2. Cost – Though treatment may be available in the patient’s country of origin, costs may amount to a much higher price tag than the same or even superior treatment at a facility abroad.
  • 3. Legal & regulatory factors – Patients residing in countries with chronically slow moving medical bureaucracies where approval of new medical procedures have been known to take years.  For others, specific medical procedures are illegal in their country of residence. Case in point are those countries where some advanced fertility procedures – such as egg donation – have been ruled illegal. As a result, it is only natural that couples pursue their medical and fertility needs in countries that do provide them those services.  

One of the more advanced areas in medical tourism is fertility.  Medical developments and advances in this field have been very successful and put into practice the world over.  Clinics in  many countries offer a variety of services, including in-vitro fertilization (IVF), egg donation, surrogacy, sperm donation, PGD and even the chance for future parents to choose the gender of their embryo.  

Further reasons that couples decide to turn to other countries for treatment are :

  • Levels of expertise in another country are higher and preferred to those offered in their permanent country of residence.
  • Discretion. In many cases, couples prefer not to have medical treatment in their country for want of privacy. They prefer a foreign country where they are not residents and where the host country does not disseminate their medical records to other than the patients themselves.

Since many companies and services providers are involved in the medical tourism business, it is important to choose a professional and trustworthy company to handle your needs in meeting your goals at becoming parents. For instance, once a cycle of IVF has been deemed a success, there still remains the process of returning those embryos to your country of residence. This process is more complex than one may deem. Transfer of a frozen biological specimen of any nature demands utilization of highly specialized equipment to maintain an undisturbed steady deep frozen temperature state all along its journey from clinic to clinic. In addition, many jurisdictions demand accompanying documentation for the import of biological specimens for both public health reasons and to verify the legality of the imported specimen etc.
Because of the these specimens’ delicate nature – especially frozen embryos, eggs (ova), sperm, ovarian and testicular tissue, it is well advised as it has practically become the industry standard – to engage a company to handle these transfers.  Making sure your precious cargo is carried by a professional and trustworthy establishment will put you more at ease following your first successful stage in reaching your goal – becoming a parent.

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