low-income countries, medical technology, medical tourism, non-communicable conditions, Yemen




This case study features stories of patients from Yemen, a low-income country in the Arabian Peninsula, who traveled abroad for medical care. Their stories, drawn from interviews with Yemeni medical travelers in India, highlight the economic and emotional burden of pursuing treatment abroad. These stories of chronic non-communicable diseases and serious injuries depart from the common portrayal of medical tourists as wealthy elective patients from the North traveling for cosmetic surgery. The stories center on the demand and benefit of technological medicine for patients from low-income countries and raise questions about what constitutes ‘health’ when non-communicable conditions often entail ongoing efforts at treatment. The case study demonstrates that relying on treatment abroad may result in suboptimal outcomes for local health systems.

Original Citation

Kangas, B. (2010). The burden of pursuing treatment abroad: Three stories of medical travelers from Yemen. Global Social Policy, 10(3), 306–314.

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