MIGRANTS DISTORT MEDICAL TOURISM FIGURES

With migration on the rise, using the nationality of patients for measuring medical tourism is inaccurate. United Nations survey on international migrant trends shows 244 million migrants in 2015.

The latest United Nations survey on international migrant trends shows that the issue of migration is one of the most challenging and important in the new global landscape.

The number of international migrants worldwide has continued to grow. Back in 2000, there were 173 million international migrants, in 2010 there were 222 million, and in 2015, 244 million migrants.

These figures include 20 million refugees for the purpose of statistical correctness despite there being a different legal regime for them as compared to migrants.

But not included in this figure are 40 million internally displaced people – refugees inside a country.

The motive of migration is not taken into account when producing statistics on international migrants, and the numbers include people who may have arrived to their new place of residence 10 to 40 years ago.

According to the Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2015 Revision, nearly two thirds of international migrants live in Europe (76 million) or Asia (75 million). North America has the third largest number of international migrants (54 million), and globally, women comprise half of all of them.

Two thirds of all international migrants were reported to be living in only 20 countries, with the largest number in the United States – about a fifth of the world’s total migrants. The next in line is Germany, followed by Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

Refugees are mainly in Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Jordan – and come mainly from three countries – Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Despite the negative political reaction to migration,countries forget how important migration has been for population growth, which is sorely needed in certain parts of the world. In Europe, the size of the population would have fallen between 2000 to 2015, in the absence of positive net migration, so there is a positive narrative about migration and refugees – the contribution to the demographics and what they do in terms of remittances back home. Remittances to international migrants’ countries of origin is two or three times bigger than the official development assistance in the world, which supports many health and education efforts worldwide. In some European countries, they need immigrant workers to support an ever-ageing non-working population

With such huge figures it means that using people’s nationality as a guide for whether they are or are not a medical tourist is increasingly inaccurate so it is important for hospitals and countries to record where people live and where they work- or the increasing number of migrants, refugees and expatriates could suggest medical tourism is growing in a country  -when in reality it is declining.

Identifying who is a citizen, who is an expatriate, who is a migrant and who is a refugee- – is anincreasingly complex problem. Many figures on medical tourism are actually numbers of international patients, so if migration is ignored, it could show medical tourism booming, when it is static or declining.

 

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