Excellent healthcare infrastructure, medical services and affordability place India among world’s emerging health tourism hubs
“India is fast becoming a leading Medical Value Destination, offering world class quality of expertise and technology, combined with personalized services and low cost of treatment” – revealed experts speaking at a seminar held recently in Dubai.
The seminar, which addressed trends in ‘Medical Value Travel (MVT)’ and Healthcare Advancements, consisted of a panel of experts from the healthcare, insurance and tourism industries in the UAE and India. The seminar was hosted by ASTER DM Healthcare, the leading healthcare conglomerate in the Middle East and India.
The seminar, which was open to all, discussed various factors which account for the growth of India’s medical tourism, including the recent leniency on medical tourism visas by the Government of India. Under the new visa regulations, patients can obtain medical tourism visa for up to one year with multiple entries allowing one time for treatment as well as follow ups across the best medical facilities in the country.
Cities like Kochi are well connected to the GCC region and other parts of the world with an entire web of air connectivity, and wonderfully aligned with natural beauty and greenery. These affordable tourism hubs attract people from across the globe and have also helped increase the number of health tourists travelling to India to avail advanced modern medical treatment at affordable costs.
Speaking at the seminar, Mr. Ashok Babu – Deputy Consul General & Consul Commerce at Indian Consulate in Dubai, said, “Being one of the first countries to be recognized for its potential of medical tourism, the private sector in India has invested strongly into this sector to develop a strong medical infrastructure that is at par with international standards. The sector has been growing at a consistent pace in India, helping it emerge as one of the leading destinations for medical tourists across the world.”
According to the 2010 data from the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, the key medical products which contribute to the boom of medical tourism in India are Cardiology, amounting to 29%, Orthopedics (15%), Nephrology (12%), oncology (11%), Neuro surgery (11%) and others which contribute 22%.
Highlighting the key trends in Indian healthcare sector, Dr Harish Pillai, CEO of Aster Medcity – Kochi (one amongst the largest quaternary care hospitals in the South Asian region), said, “Healthcare in India, especially in Kerala, is growing tremendously. Some of the key factors contributing to this growth are the presence of high quality human resources, increasing disease burden, quality accreditations, increasing penetration of health insurance in the country, apart from the growing focus of the government and the private sector into tier II and III cities.” “Growing trends such as the emergence of telemedicine and high ratio of medical tourism, the practice of quality standards with National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Health care Providers (NABH) by the Government of India, and Joint Commission International (JCI) or Canadian-Australian accreditations contribute greatly to the growth of this sector,” he added.
“The consistently growing medical tourism sector in India is has been supported by the excellent medical facilities that facilitate medical value travelers efficiently for their medical requirements, provided with advantages in terms of excellent infrastructure, competitive costs and availability of highly skilled internationally renowned doctors,” Dr Pillai further said.
It is seen that the highest number of medical tourists in India come from Bangladesh at 22%, followed closely by Maldives at 17%, according to the 2012 statistics by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. As per report, the GCC region contributes 5%, of which 2% comes from the UAE.
Speaking about Aster Medcity in Kochi, Dr Pillai added, “The advanced medical city will not only support the medical requirements of the state and country, but also provide avenues for medical tourism to the country. The state-of-the-art quaternary care referral hospital cluster with a total 1,100-bed capacity will be within easy reach of local and international communities, especially the people from the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia for advanced and cost-effective care.”
Speaking on the decision making factors for treatment abroad, Dr. Dennis Sebastian- Regional Director, Reinsurance Group of America (RGA) Inc., said, “Patients place value of medical care high on their priority for travel. This value is derived from a combination of factors which include demographic and population developments, level of awareness of lifestyle diseases, policy and regulatory reforms, per capita income, and the growth quality of the private sector. However, it is seen that high quality of expertise and treatment matters most over cost and other factors.” “The innovative healthcare delivery models in India, and the availability of affordable and quality treatment options taking the country a step further towards an ideal destination for healthcare tourism,” he added.
Aster Medcity-Kochi, offering the latest facilities like minimally invasive treatment and diagnostic techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases, is aiming to attract foreign health tourists. Among the latest technologies that Aster boasts are the Da Vinci Surgical Robot; Urology Laser; Hybrid Cath Lab; ICCA Hands off E-ICU; Integrated OT Suites; ‘True Beam’ Linear accelerator; 3 Tesla Digital MRI; 256 Slice ICT CT; 16 Slice Time of flight PET CT; SPECT CT etc.
There are many ‘firsts’ in advanced technologies accredited to Aster Multi-specialty hospital that makes it one of the most advanced facilities in the Asia Pacific region.
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