South–South medical tourism

Authored by: Meghann Ormond , Heidi Kaspar

Routledge Handbook of South–South Relations

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138652002
eBook ISBN: 9781315624495
Adobe ISBN:


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Demographic and epidemiological transitions in global South countries, on the one hand, and the neoliberalisation both of national health systems and international development aid, on the other, have produced widening health gaps between those who can afford care and those who cannot. The vast majority of so-called medical tourists receiving treatment in global South destinations today are themselves from other parts of the global South, their transnational movements reflecting and fostering asymmetrical social, economic and political relations that enable actors in some countries to be in a position to address the care deficiencies of people in other countries. This chapter argues that medical tourism reconfigures relations between and within source and destination countries’ populations, by establishing novel forms of post-national market-mediated solidarities and forms of aid. Furthermore, medical tourism reconfigures relations between national governments and their citizens by advancing subjects’ neoliberal self-responsibilisation or reclaiming bonds of social solidarity between states and their subjects. These alliances between medical tourism destinations’ private hospitals, at one end, and national and state governments, insurers, intermediaries, and individuals and their families, at the other, largely bypass government-to-government diplomatic and aid relations. This upends conventional thinking about the geography of care and solidarity.

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