MIKA makes a case for health tourism in India...
posted on Sunday, June 29, 2008 12:06 AM
Author: Prakash Omari
Medical tourism can be broadly defined as provision of 'cost effective' private medical care in collaboration with the tourism industry for patients needing surgical and other forms of specialized treatment. This process is being facilitated by the corporate sector involved in medical care as well as the tourism industry - both private and public.
The concept of medical tourism is not a new one. The first recorded instance of medical tourism dates back thousands of years to when Greek pilgrims traveled from all over the Mediterranean to the small territory in the Saronic Gulf called Epidauria. This territory was the sanctuary of the healing god Asklepios. Epidauria became the original travel destination for medical tourism.
Spa towns and sanitariums may be considered an early form of medical tourism. In eighteenth century England, for example, medtrotters visited spas because they were places with supposedly health-giving mineral waters, treating diseases from gout to liver disorders and bronchitis.
Medical or Health tourism has become a common form of vacationing, and covers a broad spectrum of medical services. It mixes leisure, fun and relaxation together with wellness and healthcare.
The idea of the health holiday is to offer you an opportunity to get away from your daily routine and come into a different relaxing surrounding. Here you can enjoy being close to the beach and the mountains. At the same time you are able to receive an orientation that will help you improve your life in terms of your health and general well being. It is like rejuvenation and clean up process on all levels - physical, mental and emotional.
Many people from the developed world come to India for the rejuvenation promised by yoga and Ayurvedic massage, but few consider it a destination for hip replacement or brain surgery. However, a nice blend of top-class medical expertise at attractive prices is helping a growing number of Indian corporate hospitals lure foreign patients, including from developed nations such as the UK and the US.
As more and more patients from Europe, the US and other affluent nations with high medicare costs look for effective options, India is pitted against Thailand, Singapore and some other Asian countries, which have good hospitals, salubrious climate and tourist destinations. While Thailand and Singapore with their advanced medical facilities and built-in medical tourism options have been drawing foreign patients of the order of a couple of lakhs per annum, the rapidly expanding Indian corporate hospital sector has been able to get a few thousands for treatment.
But, things are going to change drastically in favour of India, especially in view of the high quality expertise of medical professionals, backed by the fast improving equipment and nursing facilities, and above all, the cost-effectiveness of the package.
As Indian corporate hospitals are on par, if not better than the best hospitals in Thailand, Singapore, etc there is scope for improvement, and the country may become a preferred medical destination. In addition to the increasingly top class medical care, a big draw for foreign patients is also the very minimal or hardly any waitlist as is common in European or American hospitals. In fact, priority treatment is provided today in Indian hospitals
The Apollo Group, Escorts Hospitals in New Delhi and Jaslok Hospitals in Mumbai are to name a few which are established names even abroad. A list of corporate hospitals such as Global Hospitals, CARE and Dr L.V. Prasad Eye Hospitals in Hyderabad, The Hindujas and NM Excellence in Mumbai, also have built capabilities and are handling a steadily increasing flow of foreign patients. India has much more expertise than say Thailand or Malaysia. The infrastructure in some of India's hospitals is also very good.
What is more significant is that the costs are much less, almost one-third of those in other Asian countries.
Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre was founded in the early seventies by Seth Lokoomal Chanrai, the industrialist & philanthropist. The hospital was inaugurated on 6th July 1973 by the erstwhile Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
Jaslok Hospital is a private, full-fledged multi-speciality hospital with 359 beds of which 67 are ICU. The hospital is staffed with 495 qualified nurses & 60 medical students at any given time.
Jaslok Hospital is located at Dr. G. Deshmukh Marg., Peddar Road, South Mumbai and overlooking the Arabian Sea.