Medical tourism in Latin America requires regulation: University of Montreal researchers

Medical tourism in Latin America needs to be regulated to protect consumers, according to Universit- de Montr-al researchers. A new study published in the journal Developing World Bioethics argues that Argentinean fertility clinics are increasingly marketing themselves to international health care consumers: these clinics offer all-inclusive packages with fixed prices that feature airfare, accommodations, transfers, language interpreters and, of course, fertility treatments.

"The appeal of such packages is obvious: healthcare consumers need not worry about any of the practical details of their trip - budgeting, travel arrangements or language barriers - and can instead focus on obtaining quality medical services combined with a vacation. Non-accredited clinics in Argentina offer much more competitive prices for services in comparison with clinics in North America or Europe. For example, in vitro fertilization in the United States runs upwards of $10,000 U.S. per cycle of treatment," says Bryn Williams-Jones, a bioethics professor in the Universit- de Montr-al's Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, who coauthored the paper with graduate students Elise Smith, Carolina Martin and Jason Behrmann.

An increasing number of private fertility clinics have opened in developing countries such as Argentina over the last decade and are attracting consumers through lower pricing. There are two subcategories of medical tourism clinics: accredited centres that are part of the broader healthcare industry and non-accredited clinics focused on medical tourism. "While the 'big players' in medical tourism, such as India and Poland, are actively involved in the fertility sector, so too now are Latin American countries such as Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Argentina," says Dr. Williams-Jones.

Reproductive tourism clinics are targeting wealthy North American or European couples through the Internet. "The main interest for these individuals to become medical tourists is the high cost, long waiting lists, or even the absence of access assisted reproductive technologies services at home," says Dr. Williams-Jones.

Developed and developing nations have encouraged the practice of medical tourism, the authors argue, because of the economic spinoffs. Legislation and professional guidelines - both local and international - are needed to regulate the conduct of private fertility clinics in order to ensure that services are safe and effective. "It is in the best interests of consumers, health professionals and policy makers that the reproductive tourism industry adopts safe and responsible medical practices," says Dr. Williams-Jones.

 

Comments

  1. Navigate Global Health Navigate Global Health United States says:

    Medical Tourism, Medical Travel, Dental or Reproductive Tourism; pick your preference is growing as an accepted medical option.  Companies, individuals and couples have noticed that medical, dental and reproductive procedure are available in hospitals and clinics which are safe and run by caring and well trained professionals.

    While the article and report focus on the need for oversight of fertility clinics oversight for medical tourism by a not for profit industry similar to the Joint Commission International or Accreditation Canada would go a long way to reducing the potential for abuse.

    To find out more about Navigate Global Health please go to www.navigateglobalhealth.com

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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