Globalization has also affected the healthcare industry to an extent. The globalization of healthcare services has led to an increase in medical tourism, with many individuals traveling to developing countries for medical treatments and procedures for just a fraction of the costs they would incur back home. As such, globalization of healthcare would have its share of pros and cons as discussed below.
Analysis of pros and cons of the globalization of healthcare:
While many argue that globalization of healthcare can help underdeveloped countries better their economies, some indicate that the social and ethical issues that accompany healthcare globalization could have detrimental effects on these countries. However, the pros of globalization outweigh the cons in this regard. For instance, developing countries can adopt processes, standards and languages from developed countries via trade and outsourcing. These outsourced services can provide some economic benefits for these developing countries.
Healthcare globalization has led to the lesser developed countries are coming up with internationally recognized medical curricula that allow international students enjoy a higher level of financially competitive education for students from developed nations.
Better access to high quality medicines:
Check the life expectancy rates just a few decades back or so. It was very low. Owing to the unavailability of medicines, treatments of many of the serious diseases were not possible. Globalization of healthcare has helped interconnection between the countries facilitating a convenient export and import of live saving drugs.
Creating health awareness through online programs:
Globalization has broken the communication barrier. Medical professionals from less developed countries can easily communicate with global experts seeking necessary advice and guidance. Globalization has facilitated the emergence of online health awareness programs to democratize healthcare access.
Improved lifestyle changes:
Improved access to knowledge and information has greatly impacted the lifestyle. People have become more aware of lifestyle diseases and the pains associated with them. They have become conscious of healthcare and lifestyle choices showing an inclination towards preventive measures. In spite of few negative impacts like growing tendency of consuming junk foods, the positive impacts are much higher.
Healthcare globalization has surely impacted the infrastructure development. Healthcare organizations are eager to establish the standards of developed countries by providing improved infrastructure and state-of-the-art facilities. Although, it may pinch the pockets of low income groups, but uplifting the healthcare standards at par with the developed world is a great benefit of globalization.
Circulation of Medical Personnel
Globalization of healthcare has led to medical personnel moving to more developed countries, leaving the poorer countries starved of qualified doctors to treat locals. Young professionals tend to settle down in the countries from where they got their degrees, refusing to return home. Developed countries that lack medical personnel also tend to recruit professionals from poorer countries; thereby leaving the latter’s healthcare system in tatters.
As more and more patients and doctors cross-national boundaries insurance companies would tend to offer cheaper premiums for the facilities in those countries that are considered as competitive medical tourism destinations, and are accredited by international organizations. This would make these destinations more popular among tourists, while others remain in the background.
Uneven healthcare distribution
One of the major concerns of healthcare globalization is that weaker sections are likely to be left out from the benefits. Advancements in healthcare are mostly funded by the private sector where treatment costs are reasonably high. Best medical talents would crowd private healthcare organizations causing tremendous sufferance to public healthcare institutions. Even if globalization ushers in betterment of healthcare, the benefits may not percolate to the economically weaker sections.
Rising global travel increasing pathogen transmission:
Let us take the case of medical tourism that is providing immense benefits for those in dire need of medical assistance. People from developing countries are travelling to tropical developing countries where the chance of pathogen transmission is pretty high. Patients may contact drug resistant infections which are troublesome to treat in the patient’s home country.
Social, Ethical and Cultural Impacts
Globalization of healthcare would indeed improve the quality of healthcare in several countries around the world. However, there is no denying the fact that this would not be applicable for countries with social, economic and cultural differences.
While some may argue that simply following international standards would improve the quality of healthcare, it remains to be seen as to what extent the standards accepted in one country would be accepted by others, or whether it would provide adequate quality in these destinations. Then, there is the problem of several destinations excluding the local population from the healthcare benefits provided for rich medical tourists visiting their facilities.
Like all other fields, the healthcare system is also undergoing a globalization of sorts. However, one would need to note that unlike other fields, healthcare is linked to several cultural, ethical, social and economical issues that would need to be addressed before the idea takes form. As such, medical destinations willing to jump into this trend would need to address these issues and promote healthcare as a global human right available for all individuals, both local and foreigners.