Medical tourism is a new form of niche tourism increasingly becoming popular in the current world and India has emerged as a famous destination for providing global standards of health care at affordable costs. This type of tourism includes treatments for rejuvenation and alternative therapies but medical tourism also covers travel undertaken for medical treatments with the motive of budget-friendly alternatives. This market has grown from the existence of expensive medical procedures, long waiting periods and often times the unavailability of treatment services in developed countries.
In October 2015, India’s medical tourism sector was estimated to be worth US$3 billion and it is projected to grow to $7–8 billion by 2020. The primary reason for such a rapid growth is directly accredited to its cost-effectiveness and quality of treatment. The government also plays a considerable role in the development of this market by actively participating in promotional platforms aimed at attracting foreigners seeking an alternative. Recent developments in India include the implementation of a simplified e-medical visa facility which allows three visits to the country.
A Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) report titled “India Services Sector—A Multi-trillion Dollar Opportunity for Global Symbiotic Growth 2017” stated the enormous difference between the treatment costs in India when compared to the U.S. and Europe (nearly a tenth of the cost for the same treatment). However the majority of the patients coming to India are from the Middle East, Africa, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Maldives, Pakistan, Bhutan and Sri Lanka (Bangladeshis and Afghans accounted for 34% of foreign patients, the maximum share, primarily due to their close proximity with India and poor healthcare infrastructure). Russian medical tourism is also a major part of this market owing to Russians seeking better and cheaper options for treatment which is either not available in Russia or requires a long waiting time to obtain. This shift has also contributed by the existence of organizations providing Russian-speaking coordinators who accompany them for the entire trip.
However such exponential growths has lead to the need for certain precautions while availing of such services. The hospital visited by such an individual engaging in “medical tourism” in India should be licensed. It should be recognized by the Joint Commission International, any other commission with the necessary credibility and authority or any international healthcare auditing agency. An estimated 1 in 10 medical products circulating in low- and middle-income countries is either substandard or falsified, according to new research from WHO (World Health Organization). WHO has received reports of substandard or falsified medical products ranging from cancer treatment to contraception.
Medical tourism in India has shown tremendous growth and achieved excellence in providing quality service and performance to patients. Globalization has boosted the flow of many foreign tourists attracted by the high standards of hospitals and services provided by Indian hospitals. However it is also essential to analyze all the risks tied to such cost-effective treatments, which require adequate prior planning with the help of professionals in the industry. As stated by a care analyst for McKinsey, Guatam Kumra, that health is an emotional issue, it’s not like buying a toy or a shirt made abroad as short cuts could gravely endanger one’s life.
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