Will travel for health

sweat lodge
Miwok sweat lodge. Flickr/Jason Holmberg.
A special edition of the journal Body & Society is devoted to contemporary “medical migrations,” or travel in search of a medical cure for a health problem. Elizabeth Roberts and Nancy Scheper-Hughes, both medical anthropologists, are the guest editors.

In their introductory essay, they state that increasing numbers of people are now crossing national borders and travelling great distances for solutions to health problems. They construct a vast frame for “medical migrants,” which includes not just elites shopping globally for the best health care and newest drugs, but also victims of torture and human rights violations who seek to protect their health and prolong their life by gaining asylum outside their home country.

Also included are medical tourists who take risks to access illegal health services, such as organ transplants and the spiritually motivated travelers who make pilgrimages to American Indian sweat lodges in the desert. Medical trials that roam the globe in search of subjects are also in the frame.

The collection of essays promises to break new ground in thinking about “medicine on the move.”

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