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26 Aug 2021

Post-Covid 19 Medical Tourism in India

Post by uday patel

India has been a preferred medical travel destination for decades. Most of the ailing travelers seeking health-related treatments, including surgeries and infertility procedures, are from Asian, Arab, and African countries. A small number of patients are from developed countries like the UK, Australia, and the USA, which is increasing. Travel to India stopped completely whence it declared the pandemic in March 2021. Few international flights were busy ferrying overseas staff besides some privileged to return from foreign lands in that period.

Covid Hospital Bed

Hospital Bed

Pandemic Slowdown

A country providing quality medical treatments at a much lower cost has been badly hit by the incursion and expansion of the Covid 19 virus in every domain. With the declaration of a pandemic World, nearly all commercial activities have halted, causing great damage to the economy and future fiscal prospects. Inbound travel, too, has taken a back seat since the catastrophic impact of deadly coronavirus is universal.

Due to the ban on international flights and foreign travel, all activities connected with overseas visitors have come to a halt. Pandemic spells disaster on multiple fronts, but this microbe onslaught is being contained rapidly after the emergence of the second wave in 2021.

SOPs, therapeutics, and vaccination proceeding rapidly in India will diminish the impact or bring to a complete halt within a year. However, a slowdown cannot be eternal, and the cohesive efforts are bearing fruits, and prospects appear bright. India has showcased the strength of its health infrastructure; it has been successful in rapidly containing death and diseases in the past as well. Due to active containment, numbers are reducing, and the country will soon be out of the grip of this pandemic. The recent fightback and persisted resilience have further propelled the credibility of its health care institutions and that of the health ecosystem as a whole.

Taj Mahal Tourist Place

The Taj Mahal

Impact on Medical Tourism

Medical Tourism has been affected almost completely, but there seems to be a much-needed respite thanks to the favorable outcome being witnessed. There were nearly 700,000 arrivals during the year 2019, overseas visitors seeking treatments related to various ailments in India. Thankfully the lockdowns and bans have not marred our credibility and recognition as an economical and reliable destination for medical services, and hence post-Covid 19 period seems promising.

Revival of Medical Travel Post Pandemic

India is World’s biggest pharmacy and vaccine manufacturer. It is producing indigenous and foreign vaccines that have demonstrated a high rate of efficacy. The vaccines are low priced and thus affordable. This newfound credibility has further boosted its reputation, which augurs good, for it extols the potential of India’s health infrastructure.

New technologies, drugs, surgical procedures, and palliatives constantly emerge in the field of medical science.
Thanks to a vast pool of skilled professionals, the country rapidly adapts to the changes taking place globally. This is hailed by ITDC (India Tourism Development Corporation) as the biggest positive. But there is a lot more to be done, especially in facilitating overseas arrivals by enhancing support services like easy availability of visas, quality accommodation, safe and efficient local travel services. As far as inbound experience is concerned medical tourism operators can streamline services and offer well-organized affordable packages to preferred destinations that house top-rated relevant health facilities. According to IMA or Indian Medical Association, the Government is improving its visa policy for inbound patients.

Ironically despite this enormous health care infrastructure, medical tourism arrivals are comparatively small. Advertisements and educating the High Commissions on medical tourism is essential if we have to take advantage of a broadened base, affordability, and quality. We should also align government-based medical services with private players by creating a partnership. Experts much appreciate this since some government facilities are on par with services offered by top-rated private hospitals in India.

In 2017, there was a twenty-two percent spurt in arrivals for medical treatments, and we have to continue with the momentum. It is hoped that the industry will double in turnover in coming years whence the negative impact of coronavirus is over.

Medica tourism acts as a revenue generator. When aligned with the tourism industry, it fetches much-needed foreign exchange for India. The is one beneficial feature that encourages private-public partnership crucial for facilitating more and more ailing arrivals for value-added treatments.

The focus is on severe ailments and elective surgeries. But we should also focus on health tourism, wellness, alternative healing practices like Yoga and Ayurveda. Elective surgery enables medical travel since it does not constitute a medical emergency, and well-planned travel to scheduled destinations is possible for overseas citizens.

Elective surgeries cover optional non-medical procedures like cosmetic surgery, which focuses on breast augmentation and implants, facelifts, and liposuction besides oncology, orthopedics, neurosurgery, to name a few.
Patients waiting for elective surgeries can resort to vaccination in India and cut the waiting time as well. Even in post covid era, the prevalence of the disease at best would be minimized and not eliminated. Hence the availability of vaccines will facilitate surgeries and reduce the death risk associated with the virus. Thus, there is no place like India for medical travel.

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