Medical organisations in the UK and the US have raised concerns about the growing trend of health tourism to countries like India. Long flights, they have said, can harm patients.
Their Indian counterparts, however, disagree. “I’m not surprised they are against patients coming from the developed world for treatment here, but we are leading the way,” said IHF President Dr Naresh Trehan. “Global healthcare is in crisis — there are over 50 million patients not provided for in the US and the National Health waiting lists are so long that it poses a risk to patients.”
Wockhardt Hospital in Mulund is growing at a rate of 40 per cent a year. It is in negotiations with several US insurance companies to expand operations. “It won’t be long before insurance companies in the US and the UK realise the potential of outsourcing medical treatment to countries like India,” said Vishal Bali, CEO of Wockhardt India.
Richard Paquette, 52, from Hesperia, California had never been out of America until he discovered the treatment on offer in India. “The level of expertise and care here is far beyond what I would receive in America,” he said. “I will be back to work in a few weeks, whereas if I had been treated at home, I would have been out of action for six months and my job would have been in jeopardy.”
Avril Perera, 30, a catwalk model from Washington DC is at Wockhardt for cosmetic surgery and has had three procedures. She has had her breasts enlarged from 32A to 34C, had a tummy tuck and calf implants. Perera found Wockhardt on the Internet and was amazed at how many changes she could make to her body with her budget. “My treatment is costing me Rs 12.2 lakh,” she said. “In the US, I would have paid close to Rs 40.20 lakh.”
Markey Davis, 64, from Mississippi underwent a hip resurfacing. Getting treatment for so cheap has changed his life. “I have been limping for seven years and been in a lot of pain,” he said. “I couldn’t exercise; so I put on weight. One thing led to another and I developed high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat.