Call for Papers: International Conference on Ethical Issues in Medical Tourism

Call for Papers: International Conference on Ethical Issues in Medical Tourism

Conference Dates: June 24-25, 2010

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Sponsored by Simon Fraser University and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Medical tourism involves travel across national borders for medical procedures such as surgeries. Low and middle income countries including India, Thailand, and the Philippines, are actively marketing themselves as destinations for medical tourists with high quality medical care available without queues and at relatively low cost.

The burgeoning medical tourism industry has been advertised as creating new opportunities for host countries and patients alike. Yet, medical tourism raises a range of difficult ethical issues. Critics have charged that the active development of the medical tourism industry will inevitably create a two-tier medical system in departure and destination countries alike. Such a system in destination countries can result in the majority of medical resources being used to cater to foreign patients with little left for the less privileged citizens of the destination country. Moreover, medical tourists may face problems with continuity of care and quality of medical treatments, in addition to the burden of having to travel abroad for medical care.

The considerations noted above bring into question whether medical tourism is ethically defensible and, if not, whether any reforms and regulations would make it so. While some scholarship has begun to emerge on these issues, more discussion is needed of the range of difficult ethical and empirical questions surrounding medical tourism. We seek abstracts from the fields of philosophy, ethics, law, health policy, health services, and other disciplines that seek to answer a range of key questions: What are the ethical issues associated with medical tourism?  Who is responsible for potential wrongdoing in medical tourism?  What reforms and regulations are needed for ethical medical tourism?  Is ethical medical tourism possible?  Do reproductive and organ tourism raise special ethical issues?

The conference will feature two keynote presentations from leading experts on medical tourism:

  • Dr. Leigh Turner, Associate Professor, Center for Bioethics, School of Public Health, and College of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota
  • Dr. George Thomas, Chief Orthopaedic Surgeon at St. Isabel’s Hospital in Chennai, India and Editor of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics

We welcome paper abstracts and panel proposals from researchers from a variety of disciplines and countries, public health officials, and health practitioners . Thanks to the support of our funders, there is no fee for attending or participating in the conference, though all participants are asked to register in advance. The offices of the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences (http://www.fhs.sfu.ca/), Dean of the Faculty of Environment (http://www.fenv.sfu.ca/), and Academic Vice-President ( http://www.sfu.ca/vpacademic/ ) at Simon Fraser University along with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (www.cihr.ca) have provided funding for this event.

Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words detailing your proposed presentation. Abstracts should be submitted by email in word or pdf format to medtour@sfu.ca by April 1st, 2010. Please include the presentation title, names and affiliations of authors, abstract, and contact details of the presenting author with all submissions. Abstracts will be reviewed, and those who have submitted abstracts will be notified of the outcome of the reviews by mid-April.  Those wishing to assemble panel presentation sessions at the conference should contact the organizers directly.  Additional information about the conference will be available by mid-February at: www.sfu.ca/medicaltourism.

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