In this line of research, I look at how the medical and long-term care needs of different transnationally-mobile populations (e.g., economic migrants, retirement migrants and so-called 'medical tourists') are being supported and met in an era of intensified global mobility.

My work examines the key trends challenging conventional nationally-containerised thinking about sources, directions, subjects and relations of care by paying attention to transnational configurations of formal (i.e., state, private and voluntary) and informal (i.e., family and community) care provision.

See below for:




Media coverage and reviews



Most recent publications

Here's what I've been publishing in this research area...

The novelty and severity of the virus and the ease with which COVID-19 is transmitted have led to far-reaching and unprecedented international travel restrictions. This chapter focuses on the ways in which national governments scrambled at a moment of unprecedented crisis to manage different forms of international mobility on which they have grown increasingly dependent over the last decades. It uses the concept of ‘biological citizenship’ as a lens through which to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic offers new perspective on age-old political dilemmas of controlling the spread of contagion and its management. Through that lens, the emergence of novel spatio-relational configurations of ‘biological trust’ in the form of bubbles, bridges, and corridors; biological risk loopholes legitimizing the resumed movement of ‘high value’-‘low volume’ flows; and biologically inclusive regularizations policies can be seen. The chapter argues for the need to make increasingly visible the ways in which our biological identities articulate with our political identities in a highly globalized world.

Ormond, M. (2021) Grenzen en biologisch burgerschap: internationaal toerisme en migratie in tijden van Covid-19. Vrijetijdstudies, 39(1), 13-17. ISSN 1384-2439.

Het nieuwe en ernstige karakter van het virus en het gemak waarmee Covid-19 wordt overgedragen, hebben geleid tot verreikende en ongekende internationale reisbeperkingen. Dit essay richt zich op de manieren waarop nationale regeringen tijdens het begin van de Covid-19 crisis de internationale mobiliteit, waarvan ze de afgelopen decennia steeds afhankelijker zijn geworden, in goede banen probeerde te leiden. Het artikel gebruikt het concept van ‘biologisch burgerschap’ als een lens om te onderzoeken hoe de Covid-19-pandemie een nieuw perspectief biedt op eeuwenoude politieke dilemma's van het in toom houden van de verspreiding van besmetting. Door die lens kan de opkomst van nieuwe ruimtelijke vertrouwensrelaties in de vorm van ‘bubbles’, luchtbruggen en verbindingscorridors worden gezien. Hier pleit ik voor de waarde van het steeds zichtbaarder maken van de manieren waarop onze biologische identiteit zich verhouden tot onze politieke identiteit in een steeds meer geglobaliseerde wereld.

Ormond, M. (2020) ‘International medical travel, or medical tourism’, in A. Kobayashi (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, 2nd Edition, London: Elsevier, 373-377.

Each year, millions of people around the world, disenfranchised by the restrictive national laws and unresponsive health systems in their countries of residence, circumvent these barriers by travelling to countries where their desired medical treatment is more accessible to them. These patients’ international medical travels (IMT), sometimes referred to as “medical tourism,” have drawn popular, political, commercial and scholarly attention, first, to the diverse global patchwork of healthcare ideologies and practices; second, to the national containerization of health care; and, third, to the consequences of IMT in traveling patients’ source, transit and receiving countries.

Ormond, M. and Lunt, N. (2020) ‘Transnational medical travel: Patient mobility, shifting health system entitlements and attachments’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 46(20), 4179-4192. [Open access]

Transnational medical travel – the temporary movement by patients across national borders in order to address medical concerns abroad that are (considered to be) unable to be sufficiently met within their countries of residence – is an important therapeutic coping strategy used by growing proportions of peoples with a diverse range of mobility profiles and intensities of global moorings. Studying this phenomenon provides useful insight into a rapidly globalising era of health governance, where an ever-wider array of state and non-state actors are transcending the increasingly restrictive national containerisations of health care and engaging in cross-border action to effectively address contemporary health challenges at both individual and collective levels. In our introduction to this special issue on transnational medical travel, we draw on both ‘medical tourism’ and migrant health scholarship to acknowledge the diversity of motivations among migrant and non-migrant patients alike and the complex nature of mobile patients’ attachments to the multiple places in which they seek care. We then bring attention to how dynamic structural issues in mobile patients’ countries of residence and destination shape their attachments to places and health systems over time, examining the linkages between vitality of the political and social systems in these places to which they are differently attached and their dis/satisfaction and dis/enfranchisement with them.

Ormond, M. and Nah, A.M. (2020) ‘Risk entrepreneurship and the construction of healthcare deservingness for “desirable”, “acceptable” and “disposable” migrants in Malaysia’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 46(20), 4282-4302. [Open access]

In recent years, scholars have focused on the concept of healthcare deservingness, observing that healthcare professionals, state authorities and the broader public make moral judgements about which migrants are deserving of health care and which are not. Such literature tends to focus on migrants with irregular status. This article examines how state calculations of healthcare deservingness have also been applied to authorised migrants. Focusing on Malaysia, we examine the ways in which state authorities construct migrants as ‘desirable’, ‘acceptable’ and ‘disposable’, differentiated through calculations of their biological and economic risks and potential contribution to ‘the nation’. To do this, we analyse recent government and commercial policies, plans and practices to reflect on how such biopolitical orderings create the conditions for risk entrepreneurship – where public and private actors capitalise on profit-making opportunities that emerge from the construction of risky subjects and risky scenarios – while reinforcing hierarchies of healthcare deservingness that exacerbate health inequalities by privileging migrants with greater economic capital and legitimising the exclusion of poor migrants.


Additional publications in this area



Here's what I've been up to in this research area...

May 2019

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (JEMS)


Social Science and Medicine

Co-editor of the special issue on international medical travel with David Bell, Ruth Holliday and Tomas Mainil


Medical Mobilities blog

The Medical Mobilities blog tracked the developing field of research on 'medical tourism' or international medical travel over the length of a decade, charting the publication of new books and special journal issues.

Since 2008

Medical Travel Listserv

Founder of the Medical Travel Listserv, which functions as a space in which a community of researchers working on themes related to medical tourism/international medical travel can share news with one another.

neolib cover.jpg

Book reviews

Ormond, M. (2013) Neoliberal Governance and International Medical Travel in Malaysia, Abingdon: Routledge.

"This book addresses a large number of vitally important issues affecting the provision of healthcare in many ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ countries. [...] What this insightful, challenging and beautifully written book demonstrates is that the destinations, routes and points of departure of medical travel are formed by specific geographies, historical relationships and power struggles. [...] This book is not only about Malaysia. In many ways it provides a model for analysing and evaluating medical travel in any destination. It makes a significant contribution to debates on medical travel and will no doubt prove its influence as this important field develops."

- Ruth Holliday, University of Leeds, UK (The Australian Geographer, 2015)

"Neoliberal Governance and International Medical Travel in Malaysia is a well-researched study on the development of international medical travel (IMT) in Malaysia. […] Each chapter presents a well-articulated argument substantiated by multi-layered case studies, making the book an up-to-date and perfect contribution to the definition of IMT. [...] the book’s meticulous research and robust conceptual framework, along with its discussion on methodology, make it a useful guide on how issues in the IMT need to be further analysed and tackled at various geographical levels, i.e. from regional to global." 

- Audrey Bochaton, Department of Geography, University of Paris Ouest Nanterre la Défense, France (Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 2015)

"Ormond successfully demonstrates the growing complexities of, and challenges to, administering national healthcare systems within increasingly permeable borders. Her book provides great insight into the difficulties facing healthcare systems that are increasingly reliant on other nations, philanthropic organizations, and corporations to provide appropriate health care. [...] Ormond’s book provides an excellent description of neoliberal practices and the impacts of international travel for health care on public health."

- Krystyna Adams, Simon Fraser University, Canada (The Canadian Geographer, 2015)