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Table of Contents
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 241-242

Medical tourism - Our choices decide our destiny


1 Department of Medicine, KG's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of CFAR (Cytogenetics Unit), KG's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Submission14-Apr-2021
Date of Acceptance17-Jun-2021
Date of Web Publication20-Oct-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Harish Gupta
Department of Medicine, KG's Medical University, Lucknow - 226 003, Uttar Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/injms.injms_50_21

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How to cite this article:
Gupta H, Nigam N, Patwa AK, Kumar S. Medical tourism - Our choices decide our destiny. Indian J Med Spec 2021;12:241-2

How to cite this URL:
Gupta H, Nigam N, Patwa AK, Kumar S. Medical tourism - Our choices decide our destiny. Indian J Med Spec [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Dec 9];12:241-2. Available from: http://www.ijms.in/text.asp?2021/12/4/241/328729



“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.” – Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Laureate in literature, 1913.

Dear Editor,

World Health Organization provides “Policy and practice” guidelines of “Evidence of global medical travel” in its bulletin.[1] Although at present because of a novel Coronavirus pandemic, various travel restrictions are in place; when it's under control, vaccinated and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction negative persons are likely to be provided a passport to travel around. Various top corporate hospitals extend an opportunity for the treatment of complicated illnesses to patients of those geographies where such sophisticated facilities do not exist.

Although this is a good consideration for the benefit of all yet ground-realities unravel an altogether different perspective. Unregulated private sector working with the sole purpose of having a thick bottom line (read profit) is beneficial for none except the owner of the enterprise. During the last decades, several private conglomerates got land at concessional rates for building hospitals after making a promise to the government of treating a certain percentage of poor-patients for free in indoors as well as outdoors. However, this rule is followed more in violation in our times and there is apparently no mechanism in place to compel them to fulfill their promise. At regular intervals, various researchers analyze utilization by poor patients of healthcare services which were allowed by management of these hospitals and what they find every time is that once after getting largesse from public exchequer, hardly a few work towards a goal of fulfilling their deed.[2]

During this ongoing pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2, habit of several privately owned healthcare establishments to reap windfall dividends encashing upon seriously ill patients who are unable to get a bed in public hospitals has not gone away.[3] Scores of reports are appearing in media channels of the way private hospitals are charging sky-high prices and providing unproven/unnecessary and even potentially harmful treatments to them to earn the maximum revenue. During the early stages of the pandemic when there was an official oversight, several private hospitals were refusing admissions to novel Coronavirus-infected patients as treating them was not a lucrative business and investments were too high-an entire isolation ward was needed for them with a dedicated staff.[4]

Such discomforting and unconscionable behavior of hospitals is not restricted to India.[5]

Under these circumstances, it's no wonder that during peace times, corporate owners want to earn profits forgetting their all the social, ethical, and moral obligations. However, according to principles of justice if during peace times, corporations want to earn profits and they do; during crisis times, no one should refuse to shoulder the extraordinary burden. And those who fail to pass this moral and ethical test, should not be entrusted to share their revenue for the benefit of all. Hospitals earn their revenue on patients but patients utilize infrastructure built on public funds including roads, transport, electricity and sewage-which government earns through various taxes. This fact should force our entrepreneurs to consider that private earning is capitalized on public expenditure. The profit earned by the corporations has an invisible mark of seamless boundaries between private and public spending and equity should be there in the distribution of the wealth.

Financial support and sponsorship

None.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Ruggeri K, Záliš L, Meurice CR, Hilton I, Ly TL, Zupan Z, Hinrichs S. Evidence on global medical travel. Bull World Health Organ. 2015 Nov 1;93(11):785-9. doi: 10.2471/BLT.14.146027. [Epub 2015 Sep 18. PMID: 26549906; PMCID: PMC4622152].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Shukla S. EWS beds in Delhi. Private profiteering on public suffering. Econ Polit Wkly 2018 May 5;53(18):53-59, available at https://www.epw.in/journal/2018/18/special-articles/ews-beds-delhi.html. [Accessed on 2021 Apr 14]  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Thiagarajan K. Covid-19 exposes the high cost of India's reliance on private healthcare. BMJ 2020;370:m3506.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Banerjee S. Private Hospitals Refusing to Treat Covid-19 Patients to Face Action. Hindu; 2 June 2020. Available from: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/private-hospitals-refusing-to-treat-covid-19-patients-to-face-action/article31727178.ece. [Accessed on 2021 Apr 14]  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Williams OD. COVID-19 and Private Health: Market and Governance Failure. Development (Rome). 2020 Nov 17:1-10. doi: 10.1057/s41301-020-00273-x. [Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33223765; PMCID: PMC7670110].  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

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