History of medical tourism
Long before Americans began traveling to other countries for cardiovascular surgery, abdominoplasty or dentistry, travelers from all over the world went to distant lands in search of quality medicine. It can be said that the concept of medical tourism is as old as medicine itself. The history of medical tourism begins in ancient times.
Below is a brief excerpt about a vivid history of medical tourism. According to these data, it is clear that in the presence of difficulties with medical care – no matter where and when – people went on a journey in search of the best doctors.
History of Medical Tourism – Ancient Times
The study of ancient cultures leads to the conclusion of a strong connection between religion and health. This relationship originated in ancient times. Most ancient civilizations recognized the therapeutic effect of thermal springs and sacred spas. Below are some of the most ancient civilizations.
- The Sumerians (approx. 4000 BC) created the most ancient of the currently known medical complexes that were built around hot springs. These medical “institutions” included majestic temples on high ground with numerous pools.
- During the Bronze Age (c. 2000 BC), the tribes living in the territory of modern St. Moritz (Switzerland) believed in the healing power of mineral sources enriched with iron. Bronze glasses, from which they drank water from sources, were also found in France and Germany, which may be a sign of “therapeutic” pilgrimage within these cultures.
- The ancient Greeks were the first people who laid the foundation of modern medical tourism. In honor of their god of healing – Asclepius, the Greeks erected the temple of Asclepius, who became a kind of medical center – the first in the world. People from all over came to the temple to recover from their illnesses.
- By 300 BC in Greece many similar temples were built. The most famous “medical center” was Epidaurus, where you could find a place for sports, a snake farm, a temple of dreams and hot springs. Also famous were the zeus Quarter at Olympia and the Temple at Delphi.
- In India, the history of medical tourism is closely connected with the development of yoga and ayurvedic medicine. 5,000 years ago, a huge number of pilgrims and students of religion went to India to take advantage of alternative medicine.
- In the heyday of ancient Rome, hot springs, called terms, gained considerable popularity among the elite. They were not only medical, but also shopping and social centers for wealthy residents.
History of Medical Tourism – middle Ages
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Asia became the main destination of medical tourism for pilgrims. Hospitals providing medical services to travelers began to appear. These institutions are a milestone in the history of medical tourism.
- In medieval Japan, thanks to healing properties, hot mineral springs, known as Onsen, became popular. In particular, warrior clans used them to get rid of pain, heal wounds and recover from battles.
- In many early Islamic cultures, health systems existed that provided services to foreigners. In 1248, Mansuri Hospital was built in Cairo, the largest and most modern hospital of that time. Capable of accommodating up to 8,000 people, the hospital has become the place to which many foreigners aspired, regardless of race or religion.
The History of Medical Tourism – The Age of the Renaissance
The Renaissance epoch falls on the 14-17 centuries. It was not only the period of revival of art and culture in Europe, but also the heyday of medical tourism.
- Since 1326, a village called Ville d’Eaux or “City of Water” has become popular in Europe due to the discovered hot springs. Such famous people as Peter I the Great and Victor Hugo visited this resort. The word “spa” is an abbreviation of the Latin term “salude per aqua”, meaning “good coming with water” was first used here.
- During the 16th century, wealthy Europeans rediscovered Roman baths and tourist flows to spa towns such as St. Moritz, Baden-Baden, Aachen and Bath in England. The terms or Aquae Sulis were under royal patronage and were known throughout the world. They became health centers and a playground for the rich and famous.
- The most famous traveler in the history of medical tourism was Michel de Montaigne – a French writer and philosopher, author of the term and genre of the essay, considered the father of luxury tourism. He participated in writing the very first spa in the history of medical tourism.
History of Medical Tourism – The Post-Renaissance Period
At the end of the Renaissance, aristocrats from all over Europe still continued to visit Bath for therapeutic and therapeutic purposes.
- In the 20s of the 18th century, Bath became the first city in England with a closed sewer system, a few years ahead of London. The city also enjoyed technological, financial and social advantages during this period. The bridges were paved, there were many beautiful hotels and restaurants – all this thanks to exclusively medical tourism.
- Thanks to the discovery of the New World, new directions appeared for medical tourists in Europe. In the 17th century, English and Dutch colonialists began to build log cabins alongside mineral springs with healing properties. They noticed that Native Americans were very good at healing. Their knowledge of medicinal herbs was exceptional and competed on equal terms with the knowledge of Europeans, Asians, or Africans.
- In the 18th and 19th centuries, Europeans and Americans continued to travel to remote areas from the spa, hoping to cure numerous diseases, such as tuberculosis.
The history of medical tourism from 1900 to 1997.
During this period, the United States and Europe were not only commercial and industrial centers, but also health centers. Medical tourism was only available to the rich, who traveled to these countries in order to receive quality medical care.
- In 1933, the American Medical Specialties Council (ABMS) was created , which became the leading organization for medical specialty councils in the United States. ABMS has developed educational and professional principles that have become the basis of standards around the world.
- In 1958, the European Union was established in the field of medicine (UEMS). UEMS includes various national medical associations of European Union member states.
- In the 60s of the last century, India became a center of pilgrimage when the era of the New Age movement began in the United States. The hippie movement, popular among the elite of the United States and Great Britain, gradually developed into a full-fledged medical tourism industry, rediscovering the world of yoga and Ayurveda medicine.
- As a result of the rising cost of medical care in the 1980s and 1990s, American patients began to study the possibilities of treatment abroad, for example, to treat teeth in Central America. While American doctors were frightened by the idea of treatment in foreign hospitals, Cuba launched programs to attract foreigners for eye operations, cardiovascular operations and cosmetic procedures.
The history of medical tourism from 1997 to 2001.
The Asian economic crisis of 1997 and the fall of Asian currencies led the governments of these countries to focus on promoting their countries as centers of medical tourism. Thailand quickly became the center of plastic surgery, offering prices many times less than the cost of similar procedures in Western countries.
It was in 1997 that the United International Commission was established , the purpose of which was to monitor the activities of medical institutions abroad for compliance with international standards for check and investigate international healthcare facilities for conformance.
Medical tourism from 2001 to 2006
After the events of 9/11 and as a result of the construction boom in Asia, medical tourism continued to grow. In 2006, 150,000 Americans went to Asia and Latin America for treatment. During this period, dentistry and cosmetic surgery reached new heights in medical tourism centers.
Thailand, Singapore and India have become major centers for international tourism through JCI accreditation. Other countries in Southeast Asia and Latin America also gained prestige in this area, receiving JCI accreditation and entering into partnerships with leading US health care providers.
Medical tourism from 2007 to the present
The number of American medical tourists rose to 300,000 in 2007
— the highest number ever in medical tourism history. In 2014, this figure
was estimated at 1.25 million people , as the patient continues to
pack their bags and buy tickets to the countries of medical tourism for
face-lift, coronary bypass surgery or infertility treatment.
In the past few years, some medical and insurance companies in the United States are considering medical options. They offer their members the possibility of treatment, including surgery, in other countries. Many organizations are also considering the possibility of including treatment abroad in medical insurance.