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?Medical tourism is next big boom after IT sector?

india Updated: Feb 13, 2007 00:25 IST
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WITH AN aim to cash on the nationwide boom in the medical tourism sector — which banks on high quality service and low costs — Meditreat Shachi launched its activities in the City on Monday.

“Many of the procedures being carried out in metros are already being followed in the City. Indore doctors are comparable to any of those in the bigger cities but the cost involved is definitely lesser than in metros,” Meditreat Shachi director Suneel Rege said at a media conference here on Monday.

Quoting a recent report by a news magazine, Rege said, “Medical tourism is going to be the next big boom after the IT sector. It is slated to become a 2.3 billion dollar industry by 2012. There were as many as 1.5 lakh medical tourists in India in 2005-06.”

The company official said, “Indore is being promoted as a hub for medical tourism because of its convenient location, required infrastructure, medical facilities on par with the best available internationally and easy access to many tourist places in the region.”

Apart from the quality of treatment, the major plus that draws medical tourists to India is the attitude of Indian doctors and nurses. “It is ingrained in our culture to serve. The service attitude takes us far ahead of the doctors and nurses in the western countries,” he said.

When asked about the accreditations, Rege said, “We would not go for JCI accreditation but for the Indian ISO 9001 accreditation.”

To a question about the help they received from the State Government, ENT surgeon Dr Nitin Bhoraskar, who is on the company panel, said, “We would benefit with the Government of India’s export policy as in this case, treatment offered is being considered as ‘export of service’.

“First, we would want to achieve something and then only we would go to the State Government to ask certain facilities.” Going by the definition of medical tourism, which can be defined as a ‘cost effective’ medical care in surgical and other forms of specialised treatments, the effective rate chart shows the difference in costs for certain procedures and surgeries.

For instance, knee replacement surgery in India would take just 8,500 dollars as against 40,000 dollars in the United States.

Other procedures that can be done or are already being done include hip replacement, heart-related procedures like angioplasty, valve replacement and dental problems.

Orthopaedic expert Dr Anant Jinsiwale said, “It is not just the patients from developed countries in the west but Afro-Asian people spend as much as 20 billion dollars a year on healthcare outside their countries. Most of it goes to Europe and the United States. But with India fast emerging as a cost-effective alternative, business would increase here even without western medical tourists.”

Incidentally, a Nigerian girl Iseoluwa Victor Samuel, who underwent cosmetic surgery in Indore, was also present for the media conference. She had suffered contraction of fingers at a very young age due to boiling water. Dr Prakash Shidhlani carried out grafting and corrected the hand at a far lesser cost than her mother would have paid in America.

“We chose India for one main reason that it is cost-effective and yet offers the best medical services,” Iseoluwa’s mother said.