Diplomatist Special Report: West Asia - North Africa 2018 WANA 2018 - Page 40

SPECIAL REPORT India an Attractive Destination for Medical Tourism By KASHISH SHREY* W ith its International Quality standards and modern infrastructure, in the healthcare sector, India emerges as a huge magnet in last few years for attracting patients from all across the world at a comparatively low budget, better availability of specialist doctors. For transplant surgeries, diverse climatic conditions and vast areas of speciality in the healthcare are the valid points which could be raised to determine India's position on this aspect of Tourism. Under a proactive foreign policy, India offers Visa on arrival to patients from selected countries that are offered favourable health covers, good hospitality and the country’s rich cultural, history, heritage and diversity. This was refl ected in the Indian government’s latest data, showing a whopping 45 percent rise in the number of issued medical visas in 2016 alone, as compared to past records. Noticing the global trends in medical tourism in India, one could term it as Kohinoor (Crown Jewel), among other shining sectors under the tag of world's fastest major economy. Ranging from the world-class technology to the natural and ancient techniques as a destination, for learning and healing together, there is an estimate that by 2020 medical tourism in the country could grow to become a $9 billion industry. As skyrocketing costs, enabling a wave of people from Developed and developing nations, to seek opportunities without compromising with the quality and cost-effective medical treatment with leisure voyage, beyond respective geographies, more than fifty countries have identified medical tourism as a fruit-bearing national industry. With an 40 •West Asia-North Africa estimated global market of around $40-55 billion, India too has emerged as a torch bearer in the international Medical Tourism arena — with more than 500,000 foreign patients availing treatment annually — owing to the country’s relatively cheaper but high-quality treatment facilities, in addition to the scope of using alternative ancient techniques like Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Yoga for adjunct healing in critical lifestyle disorders successfully. Alwyn Didar Singh, the principal advisor to the president of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), is optimistic that adequate focus and powerful implementation can make Medical Tourism a $9 billion industry for India by 2020. Singh has a strong opinion and advocates that Indian Medical Tourism should be part of Incredible India Campaign. With more than 22-25 percent recorded hike in medical tourism in 2016 over previous years, India is coping with the a real challenge to create enabling infrastructure as well as to enact patient-friendly laws, apart from strengthening the regulatory mechanism through adequate reforms. Singh says, the government, in conjunction with the industry, is already in the action mode, taking steps to remove existing barriers and concerns, such as streamlining the role of medical facilitators by empanelling them with accreditation bodies like NABH; creating guidelines of engagement between facilitators and hospitals; lowering the entry-exit barriers for medical visas; extending e-tourist visas and providing visa on arrival, as well as multiple-entry visas based on treatment requirement and improving facilities at airports, including separate immigration desks for medical tourists, ambulance on tarmac et al.