To boost medical tourism, the government is planning these facilities for international patients

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The “Heal in India” initiative aims to position the country as a global hub for medical and wellness tourism.

According to the PTI news agency, the Union Health Department is fine-tuning the final phase of the program which is expected to launch this month. The Ministry of Health takes care of the various aspects and measures for the well-being of foreign patients.

The Indian government has identified 44 countries from where a large number of people visit India for medical purposes, according to the news agency. PTI. People aware of the development also informed that medical costs, quality of care in these 44 countries were also taken into consideration. These include countries in Africa, Latin America, SAARC and the Gulf.

Provision of interpreters, special desks, multilingual portal and simplified visa standards will be available at ten specific airports – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Guwahati. These cities were chosen because they see a higher attendance of patients from these 44 countries.

“In an effort to boost medical travel and facilitate the end-to-end patient journey, the government will deploy language interpreters and set up health desks at the 10 identified airports for matters related to medical travel, transportation , boarding and accommodation, among other things,” people with knowledge of the matter said. PTI.

The medical tourism market, which was valued at $6 billion in fiscal 2020, is estimated to more than double to $13 billion by 2026.

The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the National Health Authority, has developed a multilingual portal that would be a one-stop-shop for services provided by medical travel facilitators and hospitals with an interface for foreign patients. The portal is also set to launch on August 15.

The portal will display standardized flat rates based on the classification of hospitals and different drug systems, including modern and traditional systems. It will also have a grievance redress section as well as an option to submit patient feedback.

There will also be a mechanism to track the patient journey by creating a unique health identifier under the Ayushman Bharat digital mission and monitor service delivery at identified health facilities in India, the source explained.

The ministry has also drawn up a plan to increase the infrastructure of 37 hospitals in 17 cities in 12 states – Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Assam – – who see an influx of many foreign patients for treatment and wellness therapies.

The government is also working to relax medical visa standards for patients and their companions from the 44 countries identified.

The Ministry of Health is working with the Ministries of Tourism, Ayush, Civil Aviation, Ministry of External Affairs, Hospitals and other stakeholders to develop a roadmap to connect foreign patients to facilities in India to stimulate medical travel.

As part of the execution of the initiative, a nodal agency – the Medical Value Travel Council – co-chaired by the Ministries of Health and Tourism was formed to create an institutional framework for a streamlined integration of all stakeholders, official sources said.

Highlighting India’s potential for a health industry, the official sources said that the cost of treatment in India is two to three times lower than most countries. Medical treatment in India is 65-90% cheaper than in the United States. Also, India offers Ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and homeopathy.

Bangladesh, Iraq, Maldives, Afghanistan, Oman, Yemen, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania account for about 88% of the total international patients visiting India. Bangladesh alone accounts for 54% of the total medical tourists.

Treatments for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and kidney disease are the most sought after by foreign patients in India. Apart from modern medical treatments, several tourists also come for India’s wellness and Ayush offerings.

(With PTI entries)

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