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Medical Tourism in India 

Desire , Jun 20, 2019

Our Indian economy is broadly comprises of three sectors viz. primary, secondary and tertiary. While agriculture being the most prominent activity of the primary sector, also providing the country with most percentage of job, it is the tertiary or the service sector of the economy that contributes the most to our GDP. Tourism as a sector comes under the tertiary department. Efforts have long been made for promotion and encouragement of this activity. But a lot that was traditional has long since changed at the scene. Tourism in India no longer, as orthodoxly imagined, comprises just of organized travels to the villages, or the tour guides showing around the foreign travellers, the monumental monuments, wonders, and forts, gates, darwazaas, markets, famous lanes, and other prominent yet unique to India sort of places. Whatís new in tourism, is one of its modern branches called as, Medical Tourism. Medical tourism, more broadly health and wellness tourism, refers to the industry in which people from across the globe travel to other countries to get medical, dental and surgical care, and at the same time, visit the local attractions of that country.

India has become a hub for the medical tourists as the cost of medical treatment in India is cheaper when compared to Western Europe, North America and some Southeast Asian countries. India has been getting a good revenue turnover from its medical tourism from past 4 to 6 years. Being one of the fastest growing medical destinations around the world, India is predicted to drive higher with time. Everybody can get tertiary medical treatment in India which is either not available or people cannot afford it in their home country. The NITI Aayog (The National Institute of Transforming India) identified the Medical Value Travel as a major source of foreign exchange earnings. According to a report by FICCI and IMS Health- India has nearly 18% of the global medical tourism market. Also, it has been estimated that Indiaís medical tourism industry could be worth $9 billion, and account for 20% of the global market share by 2020. The report even pointed out that India enjoyed high credibility in wellness, prevention, and alternative medicines.

India was never so advanced when it comes to medical infrastructure and services. The limited number of healthcare professionals in the country were hardly able to look after the medical needs of the domestic patients, let alone patients from abroad. However, the situation has drastically changed in the last two decades. Huge advancements have been made in technology, infrastructure, and manpower in the Indian healthcare sector. The progress made in the last 10 years have made the country rank among the list of best medical tourism destinations in the world. Understanding the importance of medical tourism, the best hospitals in India and the central government have joined hands to extend their support to patients from across the world. They especially help people who look forward to seeking best medical facilities in India at the most affordable cost. Treatment even for the major surgeries in India cost comparatively 10 per cent lower than that in developed countries like US, and it is almost half as compared to that in Europe. Indiaís cost advantage will remarkably open doors to such developed countries over future. This is just one of the reasons that make India the best place for medical tourism in the world.

Getting Visas for medical purpose is much easier than ever. Access to immediate service is what attracts the foreign medical tourists, surgeries are done almost immediately. Even though India is a developing country, it provides world-class and standardized medical services and care with the help of the latest technology. Post re-treatment recovery provided to the patients with therapies like Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Yoga contributes to making India an attractive destination for medical purposes. Also India provides an opportunity to the medical tourists to visit some of the most alluring and awe-inspiring places by taking them on a medical tourist trip. Even though access to better healthcare is the primary motivation behind a patientís visit to a foreign land, those traveling for non-critical treatment can visit a few popular locations from the list of must-see places in India. This is especially possible for patients traveling for dental treatment or cosmetic care. Another major factor that has made India succeed in inviting the medical tourists is the populace of good English speaking doctors, guides and medical staff which makes it easier for the foreign tourists to correlate well to Indian doctors. Moreover, India has a strong base of qualified and skilled doctors.

A huge number of patients visit India every year to seek high-quality medical and surgical treatment services. Medical tourism in India is popular for a variety of procedures, especially the ones related to the cosmetic, orthopedic, cardiac, neurology, and organ transplant surgery. Millions of patients from abroad have so far availed the best medical facilities in India. They have been successfully treated by some of the highly experienced and trained medical professionals in the country and have safely returned back to their home country with a success story of their own.

Traditional Indian health practices such as Ayurveda, yoga, Unani, Siddha and homeopathy are now also being promoted to increase the numbers of medical tourists. Ayurveda is an ancient Hindu system of medicine based on the notion of balance within the body. It uses herbal treatment and yogic breathing. Siddha and Unani are similar in their holistic approach to finding harmony between the mind and body, with the origins of Siddha lying in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, while Unani can trace its roots back to the time of ancient Greece. These all come under the Ministry of AYUSH, a government agency created in 2014 to improve access to and awareness of traditional methods. Indiaís AYUSH industry was estimated to be worth around $2.4 billion in 2014-15, according to a 2018 report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry. This traditional knowledge of health care, along with Indiaís reputation in modern, Western approaches, is fuelling the countryís rise in medical tourism.

A growing number of tourists are coming to India for medical treatments provided by skilled doctors here. This has made India the hub of medical tourism with taking nearly 18% of the global market. The prime reason being for this is cheaper rates from Western Europe, Southeast Asian countries etc. Private institutions like Max Healthcare has treated up to 50,000 foreign patients in its hospitals. India is particularly known for heart surgeries, hip resurfacing and other advance surgeries. Highest number of patients come from Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Around 30 per cent of patients come from South Asia, 30-32 per cent from Africa, 10 per cent from CIS, Oceania and Europe and the rest from West Asia. Many patients look at the specialty of doctors rather than the cost. Most of the doctors and surgeons at Indian hospitals are trained or have worked at some of the medical institutions in the US, Europe, or other developed nations. As per data released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), between April 2000 and December 2017 the hospital and diagnostic centres attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worth US$ 4.09 billion. Over the years, India had emerged as a sought-after destination for medical tourism. The reason why India was such a preferred choice is that it offered world-class facilities and medical resources at nearly 1/10 the cost in USA and UK. There are around 6-8% patients coming from Europe every year. 19% patients come from Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan.

Conclusively it can be said that, a person earning in dollars, euros, and pounds would surely like to get a medical treatment in India wherein the currency, the rupee, comes as cheaper to them as compared to their home currency. Not only India is an affordable destination, but itís luxurious as well in the sense to appreciate the kind of state of the art infrastructure maintained at the big hospitals and healthcare groups. Also, foreigners choose to travel abroad, and come to India for a private medical service, also so as to avoid the long waiting hours and the delay in getting treated in their home countries, either due to lack of professionals, or the dearth of affordable private hospitals of good standards. What makes India as loved a destination for medical tourism as it is presently is itís affordability, majorly English speaking doctors accompanied with translators whenever needed, and also the fact of non-availability of an equipment or an infrastructure thatís required for the cure in the home countries.