By Utpal Borpujari
Knee & hip replacement, cardiac surgeries and treatment of neurological disorders – these three specialised fields have been identified as the focus areas by the government to attract global medical tourists to India.
Thirteen Indian hospitals accredited with Joint Commission International, including two in Bangalore, will be showcased globally as the best places to have surgeries/treatments in these three areas in the country, while 70-odd hospitals accredited with the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals (NABH) will act as the next range of best hospitals for patients from abroad.
The three health conditions have been chosen as the focus to attract medical tourists from abroad as it has been found that they are three for which there is maximum queries from potential medical tourists abroad.
Among the 13 JCI-accredited hospitals in India are the Apollo Hospitals in Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ludhiana, Wockhardt Hospitals in Bangalore and Mumbai, Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai, Fortis Hospital in Mohali, Grewal Eye Institute in Chandigarh, Shroff Eye Hospital in Mumbai and Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre in Chennai.
With medical tourists spending as much as $ 15,000-20,000 each as against a normal tourist’s $ 1,500, the Ministry of Tourism has woken up to the potential of this specific and specialised sectors of the tourism industry, leading to the extra stress on it.
“India is poised for a great take-off in medical tourism, as the wait-period for complex surgeries in the three fields here is much less while the cost factor is one fourth of what it is in Western countries,” says Union Tourism Secretary Sujit Banerjee.
While medical tourists look first for JCI-accredited hospitals, “our country has at least ten very good hospitals for hip & knee replacement, 50 for cardiac treatment and 20 for neurology-related treatment”, Banerjee says.
It is this realisation about the potential of the sector that will see Tourism Minister Kumari Selja give a thrust on it during her visit to Scandinavian countries this month end, while Minister of State for Tourism Sultan Ahmed will do the same during his proposed visit to Gulf countries in October.
“The African continent is another place which is absolutely virgin territory for us in this regard,” Banerjee says.
The ministry is also looking at the possibility of having a special section in the Tourism Department website giving information, including names of top doctors and their contacts, to give a further boost to medical tourism, he says.