People are responding to economic constraints and the global healthcare market by travelling outside of their domestic country to seek alternative options for expensive medical procedures. The availability of apparently reliable medical care in a range of countries including in Asia and Eastern Europe at a fraction of the cost incurred in Western countries has created some lucrative business opportunities. This phenomenon of seeking out healthcare through international travel is often known as ‘medical tourism’, with the aspects associated with fertility treatment also being known as ‘fertility tourism’ or ‘reproductive tourism’.
We are delighted to announce the cross-journal thematic series on ‘Medical tourism – concepts, ethics, and practices‘ which addresses the issues surrounding medical tourism including the host of potential moral, ethical, economic and legal benefits, questions, risks and problems. Journals involved in this series include BMC Health Services Research, BMC Public Health, Globalization and Health, and Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine. The series is edited by Silke Schicktanz, University of Goettingen & Tulsi Patel, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University.
An article by Bassan and Michaelsen describes the connotations in the public media of the use of different terms that are used to describe what is commonly known as ‘fertility tourism’. Bassan notes that “Infertile couples that travel to another country for reproductive treatment do not refer to themselves as ‘reproductive tourists’. They might even be offended by this term. So what stands behind the use of this term?”. They recommend that instead of ‘reproductive tourism’ an alternative neutral term to should be used and that if criticism is intended this should be explicit. Other articles in this series consider a range of topics from the patient’s experience, the potential for exploitation in reproductive tourism, and commercial company involvement.