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India As a Medical Tourism Destination

Asia has emerged as one of the most preferred health tourism destinations for reasons such as low cost of treatment, a vast variety of available treatments, robust infrastructure and healthcare facilities, and attractive locations for sightseeing and leisure post-treatment. India is one of the top three medical tourism destinations in Asia, and together with Singapore and Thailand, accounts for 60 per cent of the Asian revenue from this sector, according to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and KPMG. In particular, the country is known for its superior standards in cardiology, neurology, orthopedics, neurosurgery, and oncology.

Visa regulations : In the past few years, Indian embassies have made concerted efforts to promote medical tourism, which has witnessed dramatic growth since it first took off in 2002. The Indian government issues medical visas (M-visa) to medical tourists for a duration of one year. In special cases, the validity can be extended by an additional 12 months. Heart conditions, neuro-surgery, ophthalmic disorders and organ transplants are given priority. Medical tourists to India must have a valid passport and visa; there is no ‘visa on arrival’ alternative. A Medical Escort visa (MX visa) is intended for individuals accompanying the medical tourist to India for purposes of care and companionship. While before, patients were allowed to visit only three times a year during the extended time period, with a mandatory gap between two entries, recent regulation changes have removed this restriction, except for seven countries, including Bangladesh, Pakistan and China.

India produces skilled surgeons as opposed to recruiting them from abroad An important reason why the country has become a hotbed of medical tourism is simply because it produces some of the world’s best surgeons and physicians. This is in stark contrast to its other Asian competitors, who recruit talented medical professionals from other countries. To understand this fact a little better, consider that thousands of Indian medical professionals are employed in hospitals outside their homeland. Over 30,000 Indian medical specialists practice in the United States, where one out of every six surgeons is of Indian descent.

Home to world-class super-specialty hospitals with international accreditation : India ushers over 250,000 international medical tourists each year to the super specialty hospitals located in major cities such as Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, New Delhi and Mumbai. The success and morbidity rates are comparable to those recorded in the United States and Europe, though they cost roughly 15 per cent of what patients would pay in these continents/countries. The Joint Commission International (JCI) has so far accredited 19 hospitals and three specialty centers.