What is Medical Tourism?
Medical Tourism can be broadly defined as provision of cost-effective private medical care in collaboration with the tourism industry for patients needing surgical and other forms of specialized treatment, being facilitated by the corporate sector involved in medical care as well as the tourism industry- both private and public. It aims at broad spectrum of medical services consolidating leisure fun, rejuvenation and clean up processes on all levels related to physical, mental and emotional well beings. This urgent or elective medical procedure is now emerging as a multibillion dollars Industry.
Global Destinations of Medical Tourism
Popular medical travel worldwide destinations are : Brunei, Cuba, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Israel, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and recently, UAE. Popular Cosmetic Surgery travel destinations are: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico and Turkey. In Europe Belgium and Poland are also breaking into the business. South Africa is taking the term Medical Tourism very literally by promoting their medical safaris: “Come to see African wildlife and get a facelift in the same trip”.
The Growing Indian
Medical Tourism Market
With around 1.5 Lac foreigners visiting India in every year for their respective treatment, India’s present $333 millions Medical Tourism Market, can flourish to $1 to $2 billion by 2012, This would help present Indian healthcare Industry of $17 billion, grow further by 13-30% each year during the next six years, accounting overall 3-5% of the total healthcare delivery market.
Reasons for foreigners opting for Medical Tourism in India
India is relatively a newcomer in the field of medical tourism in comparison to its Asian counterparts, Singapore and Thailand. However, cost effectiveness, accuracy in handling medical procedures, comparative par of infrastructure and technology with western countries, no waiting period, wide use of allopathic & alternative medicine, historical tourist destinations & government initiatives, rated India amongst the world’s “Must See Top Ten Destination” for Medical Tourism. Usually the medical procedures in India amounts to half or quarter even one tenth or sixteenth compared to that of western countries, of course, with respect to packages opted. An open-heart surgery could cost up to $70,000 in Britain and $150,000 in the US where as in India’s best hospitals it could cost about $3,000-$10,000. Knee surgery (both knees) costs $7,700 in India; compared to $16,950 in Britain. The announcement of MVisa /MXvisa, more than 98.6% cardiac success rate at Apollo, 0.8% death rate, 0.3% infection rate for coronary bypass patients at Escort compared to that of world averages of 1.2% death rate, 1% infection rate signifies, It is not just cost but competency that is India’s selling point. About 43.3 million Americans lacking health insurance, Europeans frustrated by waiting period of National Health Services (NHS), More than 70% of the American populations prefer a natural approach to health, around 5 Lac Americans and more than 50,000 people from the UK traveled overseas for treatment in 2005, further paving the way for Medical Tourism in India.
Indian Hospitals Promoting Medical Tourism
Some well known hospitals promoting Medical Tourism in India are:
What more should be done?
Thus, a proper synergy between hospitals, state governments and International tour operators is needed for earning JCI/ISO accreditations, standardizing medical practices & price band of graded hospitals. Devising a quality assurance model, advertising our excellence among Internationals, clubbing together the modern medicine and natural healings therapies like yoga, naturopathy, ayurveda etc. and controlling the whole process under a central hub would bill India as a cost effective global leader in health solution.
Rapid growth of medical tourism or traveling for leisure and fun or other purposes can increase the chances of getting sick. It takes time to adjust to the water, food and air in another place. Water can contain viruses, bacteria and parasites that cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Nations such as India or Thailand have different infectious diseases, and different prevalence of the same diseases, than home nations such as the US, Canada, UK. Exposure to foreign diseases without having built up natural immunity can be a hazard for weakened individuals, specifically for gastrointestinal diseases (e.g Hep A, amoebic dysentery, bacteria) which could weaken progress, mosquito transmitted diseases, and influenza, TB, etc. (75% of South Africans have latent TB)
Also, travel soon after surgery can increase the risk of complications, as can vacation activities. For example, scars will be darker and more noticeable if they sunburn while healing. Long flights can be bad for those with heart (thrombosis) or breathing related problems (low oxygen environment).
So be safe by using only bottled or purified water for drinking, making ice cubes and brushing your teeth. If you use tap water, boil it or use iodine tablets. If you are traveling out of the country, you might also need vaccinations or prevention medicine. Which ones you will depend on what part of the world you're visiting, the time of year, your age, overall health status and previous immunizations. Be aware of recent status of infectious disease of the foreign country you are visiting. See your doctor 4 to 6 weeks before your trip. Because most vaccines take time to become effective. (Ref. CDC)
Some of the Medical Tourism information resource available in web: