Medical tourism in east India

India’s medical tourism sector estimated to touch USD 9 billion mark by 2020


November 18, 2019

/ By / Kolkata

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Medical tourism in India has developed in the last few years to not only provide assistance to people travelling for health issues but has also become a lucrative source of revenue for Indian economy.

At a private hospital in Kolkata a man from Bangladesh was waiting for test reports of his wife. While talking to other people in the room it was revealed that he is from Bangladesh who has come to Kolkata for his wife’s surgery. “My wife’s surgery has been scheduled this week, so the pre-surgery tests are being done now,” he said. On being asked about the reason they have travelled to a different country for treatment, he said, “In Bangladesh we don’t have much well-developed medical infrastructure. So we have to come here for better treatment and facilities. Also the travel time is less and cost is affordable too.”

And they are not the only ones as Bangladeshis constitute about 50 pc of the total medical tourists coming to India. Also according to a report titled India: Building Best Practices in Healthcare Services Globally 2019 released by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Ernst & Young, India is one of the preferred destinations for Medical Value Travel (MVT), occupying the fifth position among 41 major medical tourism destinations. It also stated that India’s market for medical tourism is expected to touch USD 9 billion mark by 2020.

While South India seems to have been promoting medical and wellness tourism aggressively, East India is also gearing up to present itself as the preferred hub. Indian Chamber of International Business (ICIB) in association with Enterprising Travel Agents Association (ETAA) organised a one-day workshop cum seminar ‘MEDENT 2019’ to introduce the prospects of medical and dental tourism in eastern India. The event had members from medical, dental, travel and tourism fraternity coming together to discuss and learn about the scopes of medical tourism in east India and mainly Kolkata.

The need of medical tourism in east India



The first edition of MEDENT 2019 held in Kolkata

While India has become a major medical destination for patients from South-east Asian countries, the Middle East, Africa and SAARC countries, majority of the incoming patient traffic goes to south India for treatment. The main foreign patients arrivals for east India and mainly Kolkata is from Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

“It is the first time any such event related to medical tourism is being held in Kolkata and we are glad to associate with ICIB and host this event. Our main aim was to bring out the huge scope that medical tourism has in Kolkata as well as India and present it to the travel agencies. It is not something which a single body can conduct, and so we have brought it here as a new avenue for the travel industry. It will not only bring in revenue but also generate employment and income. This is a knowledge sharing session and we are going to make it an annual event,” says Koushik Banerjee, chairman, ETAA eastern region to Media India Group.

The seminar had doctors and medical tour facilitators coming forward to present the scopes, challenges and solutions in this sector. While Jitin Kapoor, founder and CEO of Treat in India Healthcare Pvt Ltd presented the effect of medical and dental tourism on Indian economy, the doctors presented the problems faced by the patients coming for treatment like medical visa, currency exchange, accommodation, connectivity for travel, language and others to the travel agents, who can work on these issues to simplify the process.

Medical facilitator from Bangladesh, Kaynath Khan of GD Assist talked about the confusions created by miscommunication from both patient and institute, and offered the solution that if a dedicated department is allocated at the hospitals as well as the facilitator agencies to keep a check on the appointments, then they can reduce the problems of absentee patients and such.

Medical institutions like HCG Eko Cancer Centre, which has opened a new branch in Kolkata; NCD Immunomedicare Pvt Ltd, a treatment centre for allergy and asthma; Anup Institute of Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation, a single specialty orthopaedic hospital in Patna, capital city of Bihar and Teeth Care Multispeciality Dental Clinic in Kolkata presented themselves as potential centres to accept medical tourists. They also informed the travel associates that while they have been receiving such patients from the SAARC countries mainly, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan, they would appreciate the tourism fraternity to help them in facilitating these arrivals.

“We wanted to present that medical and travel fraternities can work hand-in-hand and if we bridge the gap, we can address many problems for people who are travelling for health issues. We are introducing this idea today from our objective of having a formal forum for medical tourism and we have begun that here,” says Tinku Rajeev Gupta, West Bengal state convenor, ICIB to Media India Group.

As this forum opens the avenue for discussions among both the fraternities, the sector may now strategise and work towards further developing medical and dental tourism in east India.

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