In Ancient times, Greek Pilgrims travelled all over the Mediterranean to Saronic Gulf which was called Epiauria or the sanctuary of the healing god, Asclepius, In Roman Britain, patients took the waters at a shrine at Bath, a practice that continued for 2,000 years. From the 18th century wealthy Europeans travelled to spas from Germany to the Nile. In the 21st century, relatively low-cost jet travel has taken the industry beyond the wealthy and desperate. This are believed to be the earliest practices of Medical Tourism. Medical Tourism existed throughout since those days to modern times, but its existence remained isolated practices, its only in the late part of 20th century, professionals took interest in it and the process of transformation started. Since late 90’s Medical Tourism was placed before us packaged in some attractive covers and after that it has grown leaps and bounds.
Countries that actively promote medical tourism include Cuba, Costa Rica, Hungary, India, Israel, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia and Thailand. Belgium, Poland and Singapore are now entering the field. South Africa specializes in medical safaris-visit the country for a safari, with a stopover for plastic surgery, a nose job and a chance to see lions and elephants.
What is Medical Tourism?
Medical tourism (also called medical travel, health tourism or global healthcare) is a term initially coined by travel agencies and the mass media to describe the rapidly-growing practice of traveling across international borders to obtain health care. It also refers pejoratively to the practice of healthcare providers traveling internationally to deliver healthcare. In simple words get yourself treated while you are in a destination where you wish to travel.
India’s National Health Policy declares that treatment of foreign patients is legally an “export” and deemed “eligible for all fiscal incentives extended to export earnings.” Government and private sector studies in India estimate that medical tourism could bring between $1 billion and $2 billion US into the country by 2012. The reports estimate that medical tourism to India is growing by 30 per cent a year. To understand the future of Medical Tourism in India, lets take a look at some facts and figures.
- Travel & Tourism sector creates more jobs per million rupees of investment plan, than any other sector of the economy.
- Travel & Tourism is the topmost sector after pornography in terms of www.
- In India Tourism is the third largest net earner of foreign exchange.
- India’s share in International Tourist arrival – 2005 – 0.34 percent, 2008 – 0.49 percent – total 3.92 million
- The World Travel Tourism Council – “India as one of the foremost growth centre in the world in coming yrs”.
- India has world class corporate hospitals and excellent treatment Centre’s in the world.
- Hospital infrastructure & technology on par with USA, UK & other European countries
- Success rate in India is 98.7% compared to 97.5% of US.
- Language no barrier – English speaking staff Language
- According to a Report of Mc Kinsey & Co sponsored by Confederation of Indian Industry (C II) named.–“Healthcare in India : The Road Ahead” report:-1.3 million medical tourists visit Asia / year and Nos. of US patients seeking cheaper care abroad – grew to 7,10,000 / year abroad
- Over 1, 50000 medical tourists travelled to India in 2002 bringing in earnings of $ 300 million. The figure rose to 3,00,000 for the period 2006-07.
- The annual growth rate of Medical Tourism in India – 2000 – 15% per year, 2007 – 30% per year
- $ 17 billion Indian Healthcare Industry contributes about 4% -5% of GDP. It is expected to grow @ 13% annually in next 5 yrs.
- Medical Tourism revenue can potentially rise from Rs. 5000 crores to Rs.10,000 crores per year.
- Health care spending in India will increase from Rs. 86,000 crores in 2000-2001 to over Rs. 200,000 crores by 2012.
So, unquestionably, the future of Medical Tourism in India seems to be very very bright. Now, what is needed to be taken care of is proper marketing which I believe can be adequately handled jointly by the Govt. and the private sector. Professional Training programmes designed only for Medical Tourism is also required to be introduced and incentivice State Governments in promoting Medical Tourism. South India, especially TN and Kerala being the frontrunner in this area is a mentionable achievement, but I would like to see world class treatment facilities in places like Shimla, Darjeeling, Nainital, Panaji too.
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