Emerging transnational space of care between Libya and Tunisia: why geopolitical context matters

Authors: Betty Rouland*, IRMC
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Migration, Middle East
Keywords: health mobilities, local development, space of care, North Africa, transnationalism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Estherwood, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper focuses on analyzing the emergence of a transnational space of care between Libya and the Tunisian city of Sfax since the Arab revolutions in 2011. It seeks to understand the evolution of so-called “medical tourism” activity insisting on the role played by geographical and geopolitical factors. Facing a lack of data and an instable geopolitical situation, with a context of war in Libya, the methodology combines a qualitative survey amongst Libyan patients (n=205) in four private clinics in Sfax as well as semi-structured interviews conducted with multiple actors in the health sector. On the one hand, the findings show that the chaos in Libya as well as the geographic proximity to Sfax push the (para)medical staff to invest in the private health sector. On the other hand, the findings point to the growth and the diversification of patients’ profiles (networks, resources, needs of medical care, etc.). Spatial reconfigurations, such as new city planning (medical, residential, commercial) and regional circulations (patients, transports, assurances systems, etc.), are the expression of an emerging transnational space of care. The political context as well as the impoverishment of the patients leads us to reconsider the definition of “medical tourism” and to question the sustainability of the related investments in Sfax, given its dependence on Libyan patients.

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