An increasing number of foreigners, especially Kenyans, are coming for treatment to AIIMS, a trend visible especially after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh underwent a heart surgery at the prestigious institute in 2009.
"More and more people in my country are willing to undergo treatment at AIIMS after they heard and read about the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, having undergone a difficult heart surgery here," said Mathew Karimi Kinuya, a Kenyan national whose uncle is undergoing treatment at the neurosurgery department.
"People in my country feel that the hospital must be the best, that is why the top leader of the country underwent a surgery here," he said.
Doctors at the institute say that they have observed an increase in influx of patients from abroad, especially African countries like Kenya.
"After the PM's surgery in 2009, we are seeing a huge inflow of patients from different countries and Kenya especially. In the last two years I have treated over 30 patients from Kenya alone. Prior to PM's surgery at AIIMS, we had one or two patient in a year," Dr Sarat Chandra, a neurosurgeon with AIIMS, said.
Along with the department of neurosurgery, orthopedics, cancer and surgery wings are too seeing an increase in number of patients from other countries.
"People in my country are reluctant to undergo treatment in government hospitals. It is because we do not have good doctors nor are these hospitals well equipped. Our experience has not been good. Even our ministers prefer to go either to private hospitals in the country or outside Kenya," Mathew claimed.
Impressed with the quality of treatment at AIIMS and the cheap facilities, Mathews now helps patients in his native country to avail treatment here at India's premier medical institute.
He said that he plans to open a medical consultancy in his hometown and promote AIIMS.
"Earlier, we too opted for private hospitals but were not happy with the treatment. Money was wasted and treatment was not satisfactory. Today I and many others who underwent treatment at AIIMS convince other patients," Mathew said.
Doctors say that the long waiting period does not deter the patients.
"My daughter had a brain tumor. My experience with government hospital in Kenya was not good one. I was reluctant earlier to get my daughter treated at AIIMS. But then the PM returned home hale and hearty and I am confident that it would be the same for my daughter too," mother of Enbong, a patient who is recovering at a private ward at AIIMS, said.
Singh, 78, underwent a successful coronary by-pass surgery at AIIMS, a complex beating-heart operation that took nearly 14 hours, in January 2009.
"We get a lot of cancer patients from Kenya in our department. Even after knowing that we have a long waiting list, they prefer to have treatment with us. Their faith in AIIMS doctors is so immense that most of them prefer to wait for their turn," a doctor with the AIIMS oncology department said.