Mexico dental tourism negatively impacts local access


Krystyna Adams, doctoral student at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Canada, has produced a PhD thesis on the ethical implications of the medical tourism industry, specifically targeting dental tourism in Mexico.

Adams spent three months living in Los Algodones, Mexico where there are more than 500 practising dentists catering to tourists who travel there for cheaper dental care than they can find back home. The research illustrated how the medical tourism industry might exacerbate global health inequities if health-care resources are only used to provide care to those who can afford to pay.

The focus included why particular locations become destinations for medical tourists, how residents experience the industry’s development and how this development interacts with the local health-care system.  The research found that, despite the large number of dentists, many locals could not access dental care because the dental practices were focused on maximising profits from international medical tourists. This discourages them from helping less affluent locals who are less able to pay out-of-pocket expenses.

In her dissertation, Adams argues for regulation of the global medical tourism industry. She says this could help prevent unfair industry practices, including those that might negatively impact access to health care for populations most in need.

Krystyna Adams holds both undergraduate and master’s degrees from Simon Fraser University in Canada. During her PhD program she published seven articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Social Science & Medicine, and the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association.



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