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Fun Fact 106: A Brief History of Medical Tourism

by Olivia Lim

Fun Fact 106: A Brief History of Medical Tourism

16th and 17th century – spa towns such as Bath were popular destinations for the upper classes as places for healing

1980s and 1990s – cost of healthcare increases, countries such as Cuba began to attract people from countries such as Latin America and Europe. In 1990, Cuba had around 2000 medical tourists.

1997 – Asian Financial Crisis. With the fall of Thailand’s currency, the government started to focus on boosting its plastic surgery services. The Joint Commission International (JCI), a non-profit organisation was created to ensure that international healthcare facilities follow the same standards and quality of healthcare enforced in the US.

2001-2006 – Thailand, Singapore and India became popular destinations as a result of their JCI accredited hospitals.

2007 – highest number of US medical tourists reached (300,000)

2016 – the value of the global market of medical tourism came up to around USD 19.7 billion


For further reading, check out our History of Medical Tourism page.

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