Dr Athiqul H. Laskar
Whenever a situation arises where we have to undergo any major surgery or operation, we immediately think about the West. This is because there is a general assumption that the best treatment for any disease or ailment can happen only in developed countries like theUK and the U.S. However, this is nothing but a myth. It is true that there was a time when the medical facilities of the country were not that advanced and people had to travel abroad for difficult and complicated surgeries and operations. But, the situation has changed drastically in the last couple of decades so that now India can easily compete with the West when it comes to medical treatment.
In such a scenario, it is definitely not very sensible to rush abroad for treatment when the same can be done in India at almost half the cost without compromising on quality. In fact, medical tourism is a burgeoning sector in India. People from all over the world come to India for receiving treatment. Let us have a more detailed look at the concept of medical tourism in India.
India Reigns Supreme in Medical Tourism: Medical tourism or travel primarily denotes the process of travelling to a different country for the purpose of healthcare. This is done in order to enjoy certain benefits such as low cost treatment, access to more advanced technology and the support of highly experienced and skilled surgeons. India scores highly on all three fronts. The country houses the most competent and capable doctors, competitive treatment rates and state-of-the-art medical facilities. As a result, it ranks high among the most popular countries for all kinds of medical treatment.
It is claimed by most estimates that the cost of treatment in India is almost one-tenth of the treatment expenses in Britain or America. This explains why around 150,000 people come to India every year for cheap healthcare procedures. Some of the most popular treatments sought by medical tourists in India are bone-marrow transplant, eye surgery, hip replacement and cardiac bypass. The country is also particularly known for hip resurfacing and heart surgery.
Chennai has already earned the tag of being the health capital of India. This is because the city is full of super and multi-specialty hospitals that are equipped with the most advanced medical technologies. The number of hospital beds in the whole city is estimated at 12,500 only half of which is used by the inhabitants. The other half is shared by foreigners and patients from other Indian states.
It is expected that the medical tourism sector of India will grow at a rate of 30% annually. If this turns out to be true, the industry will become a 2 billion dollar one by 2015.
Reasons for India’s Growth in Medical Tourism The effects of recession and the subsequent economic downturn were felt by all. It forced everyone to look for more affordable options in every avenue including healthcare. However, the quality also had to be kept in mind since health is something which could not be compromised in any way. This triggered the interest of foreigners in India since it is known to comprise world-class doctors whose services could be availed at a much lesser price. The government also did its bit by offering lucrative deals for international patients. All these contributed to the growth of medical tourism in India.
A Difference in Attitude: It is indeed a matter of great surprise that foreigners have more trust in our doctors and medical infrastructure than native Indians. The reason for saying this is because a significant portion of the Indian population still does not feel safe to get operated here. If there are no financial constraints, they readily fly to foreign horizons and undergo treatment and surgery in foreign shores. Even in cases where people cannot afford to get operated abroad, they take loans and borrow from fellow relatives to travel abroad for treatment.
A serious change in attitude is needed in these cases. If the foreigners can place so much trust and faith in our doctors, why can’t our own people do the same? The advancements that have been made in the medical field in India are not unknown to anyone. Everyone is pretty aware of the facilities and infrastructure our country boasts of at present. In such a scenario, it does not really make any sense to spend a ransom only to earn the satisfaction of being treated by foreign doctors.
Advantages of Medical Treatment in India: The primary advantage that people can enjoy by opting for treatment in India itself is a significant reduction in medical cost. A simple example would illustrate this point clearly. A heart surgery costs around 60,000 dollars in the US and 30,000 pounds in the UK. In comparison, the expense of a heart operation in India is between 3,000 and 10,000 dollars. If you compare the two figures, the disparity becomes apparent which is huge, to say the least. The same is true for other surgeries too. For instance, hip replacement costs over 60,000 dollars in America while its cost is only 15,000 dollars in India.
Secondly, Indian doctors are equally proficient and skilled as their Western counterparts. They undergo rigorous training before they are recruited by any top medical institute or hospital. They also have more experience since they have to deal with a much larger number of patients compared to foreign doctors. All these factors make treatment in India a totally safe and superior experience.
Thirdly, the quality of medical treatment in India is very high. This is because the country boasts of a high-quality education system which has a turnover of around 10,000 to 20,000 trained and skilled nurses and doctors each year. Again, there are 15 JCI (Joint Commission International) accredited hospitals which boast of all modern medical amenities and facilities.
Another reason why medical treatment in India is far better than the West is because it involves almost zero waiting time. This is a result of the boom in private sector which consists of clinics and hospitals with the best practitioners and latest technology. There are certain conditions which demand immediate attention and no amount of delay can be allowed. Due to the increased availability of private hospitals, emergency situations can be handled with ease in India.
Good News for NRIs too: This opportunity of cost-effective quality treatment should be availed by non-resident Indians too. They may be earning in dollars but do not necessarily have to spend in dollars too. Instead, they can visit their own country for treatment and save a major portion of their hard-earned money to be used more effectively for other purposes.
Better Promotion of Medical Facilities in India: The government also needs to do its bit. In today’s time, everything is driven by promotion and the same holds true for medical treatment as well. It is very important for the citizens of India to know that modern and up-to-date medical facilities are available in our country and those are used by doctors for treatments, surgeries and operations. Thus, the government has to advertise and market these features prominently so that people are not tempted to leave the country when a serious health condition crops up.