The cap on visas for Maldivians visiting India has forced some corporate hospitals in the city to reconsider their expansion plans.

Sparsh Hospital that had plans to tie up with a new healthcare facility in Maldives is now reconsidering its plans.

Sharan S. Patil, chairperson and chief orthopaedic of Sparsh Hospital, told The Hindu that following the clamp on visas, the hospital has decided there was no point in going ahead with the proposal to tie up with hospitals there. The hospital gets more than 30 patients a month from Maldives for surgeries as well as follow-up.

“As hospitals in Maldives are equipped only with infrastructure for basic health problems, most Maldivians come to India for treatment. The proposal was to send our doctors there to conduct speciality clinics. The idea was to avoid people coming to India even for consultations. But now we are wondering what is the point in going ahead with this proposal,” Dr. Patil said.

A team from his hospital had planned to visit Maldives in the third week of January to tie up with two private hospitals (ADK and Medicare Primax) there, he said. The Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences also gets nearly four patients a week from Maldives. Institute Director C.N. Manjunath said the cap would deprive Maldivians of quality healthcare. “Although some Maldivians also go to Sri Lanka for treatment, most choose India, especially Kerala and Bangalore,” Dr. Manjunath said.

Sudarshan Ballal, medical director of Manipal Hospitals, said the impact on medical tourism would not be big.

All these doctors said that there should be no restrictions on medical tourism. “Medical infrastructure in our country is chosen by most international patients because of the expertise of doctors here and world-class medical and surgical care at affordable costs, apart from the favourable climatic conditions. Such restrictions will send a wrong message ,” Dr. Patil added.