TAMIL NADU

Medical tourism: Tiruchi fast catching up with rivals

With a strong medical infrastructure, Tiruchi, a tier-II city, is slowly but steadily emerging as a medical tourism hub next only to Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai in the State.

The emergence of hospitals that boast of quality intensive care units, medical and surgical experts, operation theatres, pre and post-operative care facilities have strengthened the promotional pitch.

Besides extending basic healthcare services, experts say the city has a slew of good hospitals with multi speciality departments to provide quality services at affordable cost. Though the hospitals in Tiruchi primarily promote their names rather than that of medical practitioners, it has well-known experts in various fields such as cardiology, nephrology, pulmonology, ophthalmology and neurology. It has facilities for kidney, liver and eye transplants too.

“There are good signs of Tiruchi being projected as an emerging medical tourism hub. The city boasts of good quality healthcare to treat patients of heart attack and cardiac failure. It can even offer cardiac resynchronisation therapy,” says Senthilkumar Nallusamy, a cardiologist.

Quite a few hospitals in the city are already receiving patients from Southeast Asia and the Middle East including Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Dubai and Kuwait. Many of them are non-resident Indians employed abroad.

“I get 30 to 40 patients from the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries a month. Depending upon their health issues, they stay three to seven days in Tiruchi for investigation and follow up. What we hear from them is that the investigation and treatment cost is much cheaper than their countries,” says M.A. Aleem, a neurologist in Tiruchi.

Good air connectivity to Tiruchi from Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the Middle East is said to be another important reason for patients preferring Tiruchi. Doctors say they can reach their respective hospitals in Tiruchi within four to five hours.

K. Balasubramanian, an orthopaedic surgeon, said the city had good potential to grow as an affordable healthcare centre. “The time has come for the medical fraternity to work out a strategy to attract more foreign patients. The government has to follow a pragmatic approach over issuance of medical visa to foreign patients,” he added.