Minister of state in the ministry of culture and tourism, Prahlad Singh Patel.(Sonu Mehta/HT file)
Minister of state in the ministry of culture and tourism, Prahlad Singh Patel.(Sonu Mehta/HT file)

Centre plans push for Ayurvedic, allopathic tourism in country

Centres registered with AYUSH ministry will be promoted as hubs of medical tourism
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By HT Correspondent | Edited by Smriti Sinha
UPDATED ON DEC 15, 2020 10:23 AM IST

The ministry of tourism is planning to boost Ayurvedic and allopathic centres registered with the ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) as hubs of medical tourism, officials familiar with the matter told Hindustan Times.

“Post Covid-19, a lot of people will be looking to plan wellness tours,” said an official on the condition of anonymity. “India is the ideal place and we have a great opportunity here,” the official said.

According to tourism and culture minister Prahlad Patel, the decision was taken at a meeting of the National Medical and Wellness Tourism Board on Monday. “India has always been a leader in Ayurveda and we can become a global hub for such tourism,” Patel told Hindustan Times. The board will meet every three months to review the progress.

It has officials from the ministry of AYUSH, home affairs, ministry of health and family welfare, Indian Medical Association and private players such as Dr Naresh Trehan, Dr Sangeeta Reddy and Ramdev.

Also read | ‘Demand for Ayurvedic products went up globally during Covid-19’: PM Modi

India, said officials, is poised to become an even larger player as the cost of treatment is lesser than in other countries, waiting time is lesser, presence of qualified doctors, personalised healthcare and easy medical visa process.

“The ministry is also in talks to ensure that medical tourists will be able to obtain a visa within a day of their application,” said the above-mentioned official. “Those facing problems will be redirected to a new call centre being set up in the culture ministry to expedite their visa.”

At present, India has 34 hospitals accredited by Joint Commission International, an international body that certifies healthcare organisations. National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers in India, however, has certified 578 hospitals.

“The aim is to exponentially increase the number of internationally certified hospitals,” said the official. The list of these hospitals will be included in the Incredible India campaign and be made available on its website. The centres to be promoted will be identified by AYUSH ministry.

“There are three buckets of strength that India has when it comes to medical value travel, one is the combined power of traditional medicine and modern medicine in India,” Trehan told Hindustan Times. “Traditional medicine, Ayurveda, can play an important role in treating gastrointestinal problems and allergies. Allopathy has established itself in treatments like bone enjoinment. Then there is herbal medicine, which is used for boosting immunity and stress reduction.”

Trehan added that by using embassies abroad to spread awareness about the programme, India can become a hub for such treatments. “There have been scattered efforts by agencies and individual hospitals to promote such travel. What is missing is a consolidated effort and that is what the board is planning,” he said.

The global medical tourism industry market is estimated to value $19.7 billion, with the Asia-Pacific region accounting for 40% of the share. India’s share was reported to be around 18% of the market in 2019, with nearly 4.75 million medical tourists travelling to the country in 2017.

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