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Policymakers will benefit from the author’s densely detailed but accessible, on-the-ground reporting of an increasingly...

Monocle Washington correspondent Issenberg (The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns, 2012, etc.) describes the rise of medical tourism, which draws patients from around the world to such unexpected places as Hungary, the acknowledged dental capital of Europe, and Thailand, whose government touts it as the “Medical Hub of Asia.”

Once, going abroad for health care was reserved for the wealthy. Now, tens of thousands of patients who feel they cannot get needed care where they live are traveling to distant places. “Emiratis fly to South Korea for organ transplants,” writes the author. “Canadians travel to Costa Rica for check-ups. Yeminis with heart disease often end up in India.” Patients travel to the United States seeking access to care; they leave the U.S. in search of lower costs. The $90,000 heart bypass available to insured Americans at home costs $20,000 in Singapore. Many countries offer special health-travel promotional packages, with some clinicians sending chauffeured cars to collect patients at airports. Turkey’s 2014 economic modernization plan calls for expanded medical tourism. With a focus on Eastern Europe, the author traces the globalization-driven growth of the search for better health care, offering many stories of practitioners who provide dental implants, joint replacements, and other procedures. He details the growth of national health systems since the 1880s, takes into account the health travel–related effects of the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of the European Union, and finds that the revenues of foreign patients bolster the budgets of hospitals. At the same time, local patients often lack the means to pay for care or linger on waiting lists. In Issenberg’s view, the scarcity of care for locals is caused not by health tourism but by local government policy.

Policymakers will benefit from the author’s densely detailed but accessible, on-the-ground reporting of an increasingly commonplace phenomenon with serious implications for the future of health care.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9909763-8-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Columbia Global Reports

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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