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Medical tourists flocking to India

Illustration: Deepak Harichandan

Illustration: Deepak Harichandan  

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With every passing year, it’s the preferred destination for foreigners

A rare combination of advanced facilities, skilled doctors, and low cost of treatment have made India a popular hub of medical tourism, attracting a large number of foreign patients every year. The total number of such visitors in 2017 was 4.95 lakh, Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge) K.J. Alphons, said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

This number had stood at around 2.34 lakh in 2015, and 4.27 lakh in 2016.

Bangladesh and Afghanistan continued to be the top countries from where the maximum number foreign tourist arrivals (for medical purpose) was seen. In 2017, about 2.21 lakh tourists from Bangladesh are estimated to have come to India for medical reasons, compared to 1.20 lakh in 2015 and 2.10 lakh in 2016.

Likewise, the number of medical tourists from Afghanistan stood at 27,505 in 2015 and 61,231 in 2016. The number declined to 55,681 in 2017. Other countries from where large numbers of medical tourists came to India include Iraq, Oman, Maldives, Yemen, Uzbekistan and Sudan.

Asked about the foreign exchange earned (FEE) from medical tourism, the Minister said the data was not separately available. “However, the provisional estimates of the total FEE through medical tourism during 2015, 2016 and 2017 were ₹1,35,193 crore, ₹1,54,146 crore, and ₹1,77,874 crore, respectively,” he said.

The Niti Aayog has identified medical value travel (MVT) as a major source of foreign exchange earnings. India currently has around 18% of the global medical tourism market. Its medical value travel (MVT) was pegged at $3 billion in 2015, and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 15%, according to a report by FICCI and IMS Health, a health industry information firm. It has been estimated that by 2020, India’s medical tourism industry could be worth $9 billion, and account for 20% of the global market share.

The report pointed out that in curative care, India was the preferred destination for cardiology, orthopaedics, transplants, and ophthalmology. India also enjoyed high credibility in wellness, preventive, and alternative medicine.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 1:08:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/medical-tourists-flocking-to-india/article24497896.ece

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