Rise in medical travel from Bangladesh

The number of medical tourists leaving Bangladesh for neighbouring countries is rising, says an article in the DhakaTribune.

The reasons given in the article for the rise in outbound medical from Bangladesh include experiences of conflicting diagnoses from different doctors, wrong treatment at supposedly good hospitals and erroneous lab reports.

It also highlights that there is a high doctor to patient ratio in Bangladesh, and cites data from the Bangladesh Economic Review stating that the country has one doctor for every 2,039 people and approximately 0.6 million patients seek medical advice each day.

The article quotes Dr Syed Abdul Hamid of the Institute of Health Economics, at the University of Dhaka, who says another complicating factor in a country with an already weak healthcare infrastructure is that there is a tendency for patients to see only famous specialist doctors.

“We have efficient doctors but they are overburdened. There is a need to build a distribution system of patients where senior doctors would only see referred patients,” Hamid said.

The article points out that the absence of proper regulatory control in healthcare seems to have given hospitals and diagnostic labs a free rein, leading to misdiagnosis.

Feeding this rising trend of medical tourism from Bangladesh, the article says that many hospitals now either have liaison offices or provide access to foreign consultants. Medical travel agent organisations have also grown.

Farhana Ahmed of Health Connect International, an agency which connects Bangladeshi patients to foreign hospitals, is quoted as saying 50 to 60 people visit foreign hospitals through her company every month.

The article states that India, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia are the most visited countries by Bangladeshi medical tourists.

For an in-depth analysis of the medical travel from Bangladesh, sign up to the IMTJ Country Profiles.