Centre Gears up to Regulate Medical Tourism

Over 50 medical experts from across India Saturday urged the central government to set up a “national board” to promote the country as a medical tourism destination.

The medical practitioners also urged the government to form the board under the Public-Private Partnership mode so that doctors in both private and government hospitals get a chance to contribute towards the objective.

“There is urgently a need of a national board to endorse India as a medical tourism destination as medical tourism in India is already a growing sector. It will help various stakeholders in the health industry to work together just like in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Germany,” said Prem, a global medical tourism consultant.

He was speaking at the International India Medical Tourism Congress held here. Tourism Secretary Lalit K. Panwar inaugurated the event.

According to various surveys, the Indian medical tourism sector is expected to experience an annual growth rate of 30 percent, making it a $2 billion industry by 2015.

Prem said apart from the private and public hospitals, other organisations like PHD Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the ministry of health should also be stakeholders in the board.

“Also there will be all legal support while forming a national board to endorse India as a global health tourism destination,” Prem said.

Over 150,000 tourists come to India for low-priced healthcare procedures every year as medical treatment costs in the developed world are much more as compared to India, he added.

Manipal Healthcare’s Managing Director Ajay Bakshi said: “The private hospitals in India have the capacity to provide special care to the international patients, which is equal and even better than the private hospitals of any European countries.”

“In the last one decade, the perception of foreigners towards Indian healthcare has changed and now they prefer Indian hospitals over the hospitals in Germany and France,” he said.

A survey is being conducted across the country on hospitals so that some of the suggestions can be submitted to the tourism and health ministry.

Hakan Tarakcioglu, international head of Turkey-based Kent hospital, said the low cost, better hospitality and up to the mark palliative care were the factors that will make India a global leader in health tourism.

He said: “The government hospitals should participate as actively as private ones in giving proper healthcare to the international patients.”

Adewale Alabi, a medical practitioner from Nigeria who works both in India and Nigeria, said: “Indian hospitals are the first option for the Nigerians.”

“Watching the outflow of the patients from Nigeria to India, the Nigerian government has started developing the healthcare services,” he told IANS.

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