Skip to main content

Medical Tourism - Ethical Dilemmas

  • Synopsis: Published: 2009-10-07 (Revised/Updated 2010-05-27) - Medical tourism in Latin America needs to be regulated to protect consumers, according to researchers. For further information pertaining to this article contact: University of Montreal.

Main Document

The appeal of such packages is obvious: healthcare consumers need not worry about any of the practical details of their trip - budgeting, travel arrangements or language barriers - and can instead focus on obtaining quality medical services combined with a vacation.

Study examines ethical dilemmas of medical tourism - University of Montreal researchers publish in Developing World Bioethics journal

Medical tourism in Latin America needs to be regulated to protect consumers, according to Universite de Montreal researchers. A new study published in the journal Developing World Bioethics argues that Argentinean fertility clinics are increasingly marketing themselves to international health care consumers: these clinics offer all-inclusive packages with fixed prices that feature airfare, accommodations, transfers, language interpreters and, of course, fertility treatments.

"The appeal of such packages is obvious: healthcare consumers need not worry about any of the practical details of their trip - budgeting, travel arrangements or language barriers - and can instead focus on obtaining quality medical services combined with a vacation. Non-accredited clinics in Argentina offer much more competitive prices for services in comparison with clinics in North America or Europe. For example, in vitro fertilization in the United States runs upwards of $10,000 U.S. per cycle of treatment," says Bryn Williams-Jones, a bioethics professor in the Universite de Montreal's Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, who coauthored the paper with graduate students Elise Smith, Carolina Martin and Jason Behrmann.

An increasing number of private fertility clinics have opened in developing countries such as Argentina over the last decade and are attracting consumers through lower pricing. There are two subcategories of medical tourism clinics: accredited centers that are part of the broader healthcare industry and non-accredited clinics focused on medical tourism. "While the 'big players' in medical tourism, such as India and Poland, are actively involved in the fertility sector, so too now are Latin American countries such as Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Argentina," says Dr. Williams-Jones.

Reproductive tourism clinics are targeting wealthy North American or European couples through the Internet. "The main interest for these individuals to become medical tourists is the high cost, long waiting lists, or even the absence of access assisted reproductive technologies services at home," says Dr. Williams-Jones.

Developed and developing nations have encouraged the practice of medical tourism, the authors argue, because of the economic spinoffs. Legislation and professional guidelines - both local and international - are needed to regulate the conduct of private fertility clinics in order to ensure that services are safe and effective. "It is in the best interests of consumers, health professionals and policy makers that the reproductive tourism industry adopts safe and responsible medical practices," says Dr. Williams-Jones.

Partners in research:

This study was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Fonds de la recherche en sante du Quebec, COPSE and the Universite de Montreal's Faculty of Medicine.

About the study:

The paper, "Reproductive Tourism in Argentina: Accreditation and its Implications for Consumers and Policy Makers," published in Developing World Bioethics , was authored by Elise Smith, Carolina Martin, Jason Behrmann and Bryn Williams-Jones of the Universite de Montreal.



Information from our Medical Tourism: International HealthCare Procedures, Destinations & Savings section - (Full List).

E-Newsletter

Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be. Also see information on blood group types and compatibility.


  1. New Details on Aged Brain, Alzheimer's and Dementia Revealed
  2. FDA Issues Guidance on Generic Abuse-Deterrent Opioid Development
  3. Getting a Job with a Disability - Infographic with Transcript
  4. New Sports and Disciplines for Paris 2024 Paralympics




Citation