Rama Baru, Professor, Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, JNU and Adjunct Fellow, ICS and Madhurima Nundy, Associate Fellow, ICS.
Health tourism includes travelling for medical care, wellness and relaxation. According to UNESCAP (2007) medical travel refers to international phenomenon of individuals travelling, often great distances, to access health services that are otherwise unavailable due to high costs or limited supply. The reasons for the rise of health tourism is located in the rising cost of medical care in developing countries and the overall crisis that has affected health service systems in developed and developing countries. Incomplete insurance coverage, long waiting lists for interventions, poor care services after hospitalization are all important reasons for rise of this industry. Another important segment for medical travel is dental, optical and cosmetic surgery. Five distinct industries come together to form the complex for health tourism. These include tourism, hospitality, airlines, insurance, medical care and wellness services.