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Researcher Explores Issue of Medical Tourism

Marelle Reid - Burnaby Now
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October 6, 2012

Dental work in Mexico, a facelift in Barbados, or perhaps a knee replacement in India.

These are just a few of the many options for surgeries available around the world to those who can afford to pay out of pocket.

The ethics, equality and safety of what is known as "medical tourism" comprise a complicated subject of debate, however.

In response to this, a team of researchers at Simon Fraser University is studying the topic to help find some answers to offer Canadian patients considering cross-417border health care.

Valorie Crooks, a health geographer at SFU, recently received a $635,000 salary award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research for an eight-year period to further her research in this area.

Her qualitative study focuses on Canadian medical tourism in Barbados, Guatemala, Mexico and India. Crooks hopes to gain a better understanding of the impacts of medical tourism for both Canada and the destination country.

By next year, she and her team of researchers hope to have a tool guide for Canadians who are considering medical tourism to help them carefully consider their options.

"I can fully appreciate why people ask me, 'Is medical tourism right or wrong, is it good or bad?' and the thing is, it's a very complex practice," said Crooks. "It's a multi-billion dollar industry. You have flows of patients from countries in the global south to the global north and vice-versa, and within the global north and the global south. It is extremely hard to make a blanket statement."

The research, Crooks said, is not meant to come up with a simple answer to all of the necessarily complex questions related to this industry, but rather to gather information and provide preliminary statistics on medical tourism for patients and policymakers in Canada.

Read more at Burnaby Now

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