doi 10.17059/2018-2-19
JEL: I11, I18, Z32
M. M. Ali , A. Medhekar


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The healthcare system in Bangladesh suffers from many shortcomings. This drives not only the affluent and the middle-class, but also the poor Bangladeshi to travel cross-border to India, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia for medical treatment. In Bangladesh, there are an over-crowded public healthcare system, the paucity of funds, a lack of medical expertise and technology, and few quality private hospitals to service the local high-income population. For this paper, Bangladeshi patients (n=113) who had undergone medical treatment in Thailand during February 2017 to June 2017, completed the survey. Statistical findings suggest that the medical costs are high in Thailand and hiring personal attendants for older patients is expensive. Apart from the language barrier with no interpreting services, the patients are also required to purchase sample medicine from the hospital dispensary at a higher price. On the positive side, the physicians in Thailand were overseas qualified, caring, trustworthy, honest and straightforward while dealing with patients, and had the expertise to provide diagnostic results for several diseases. Results also show that compared to Bangladesh, Thailand has less waiting-time for surgery with state-of-the-art medical facilities, and excellent healthcare service, resulting in an increasing outbound medical travel from Bangladesh. Healthcare policy implications are that the public and private hospitals in Bangladesh need to provide the quality of accredited and timely healthcare to the locals, so that the poor and middle-class Bangladeshi do not have to travel cross-border for healthcare. Unless Bangladesh improves its healthcare system, the outbound medical travel to Thailand and other neighboring countries will continue, and can it dream to develop a medical tourism market to attract foreign patients. Doctors, nurses and lab technicians along with health management personnel must be ethical and corruption free. Improved excellence in healthcare delivery, international accreditation, and elimination of dishonest performs in Bangladeshi healthcare will steadily decrease outbound medical travel by the poor and middle class Bangladeshi, save medical travel costs, medical travel-risk and anxiety of being away from home and relatives, resulting in more and more Bangladeshi patients preferring to trust and use their healthcare system. Future research directions will explore the quality, access and affordability of inclusive healthcare in both public and private hospitals of Bangladesh.

Keywords: Bangladesh, Thailand, medical, travel, public healthcare, quality, accreditation, patient, economic development, region