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$9 Billion by 2020: Indian Government Target for Medical Tourism Industry

Medical Tourism India

India is a attractive travel destination for international tourists from across the world. The bouquet of travel destination in India is beautiful beyond comparison, blessed with geography,wildlife,rich art and architecture, food, people, diverse culture and nature. But now, India is striding towards making a leap in a sector which is termed under “Niche Tourism” called Medical Tourism


Medical tourism in India is currently gaining upward momentum since its inception form last decade.Current figures of this industry stands at $ 2.5 - 3 Billion a year, but this seems a very negligible when Indian government aims to achieve till 2020.”India can provide medical and healthcare of international standards at low cost” Minister KJ Alphons said in written response to a query in the Lower House of Parliament. The target to increase international patient inflow to double, and increase in number by 200 % from current revenue generation rates.India bats on "India excels in the state of the art medical facilities, reputed health care professionals, quality nursing facilities and traditional healthcare therapies." Minister KJ Alphons. 


India has gained very fast in positive direction towards growing medical tourism industry. In year 2015, India was among the top 3 favorite destination for medical tourism among international patients. Also the figure of revenue was $ 3 billion and number of patients arrived were 2,34,000 in a year 2015, which arrived through medical visas, the same increased to double 495,056, government figures show. 

Government Initiatives To Attract medical Tourists 

Government has initiated steps to achieve this target in systematic path. Visa rules has relaxed to assimilate more medical visa to encourage international patients to travel to India for medical treatments. "The e-tourist visa regime has been expanded to include medical visits as well. Medical and medical attendant visas have been introduced to ease the travel process of medical tourists. The maximum duration of stay in India under the e-medical visa is a longer duration of six months," Alphons said. In recent years,NPPA - National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, Indian Drug price regulator has capped the price essential medical equipments required for cardiac surgeries like Stents and also Knee implants. These steps has reduced the cost of cardiac and orthopedic procedures significantly.

Medical Tourism - A global Trend

Medical tourists is described as “ travel across international borders with the intention of receiving some form of medical treatment” by OECD. Medical treatment services are vast which ranges from beauty enhancement procedures like cosmetic surgery,dental implants,along with elective and fertility treatments. People visit India for a variety of health care needs, including cancer treatments, transplants and cardiac surgery.


Globally, medical tourism industry market is estimated to be more than $45 billion, and number of international patients who travel for medical related procedures are around 14 - 16 million patients.Other leading destinations include Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey and the United States. 


India has picked up the pace and has been among the frontrunner in attracting patients with its best medical treatment options with affordable cost. Cost is among the major factor while deciding the host country, along with treatment quality, along with number of reasons such as culture, proximity or perception of care. The figures below are estimation how much international tourist can save from medical and health care treatment in India.The usual saving bracket is estimates savings ranging from 40% to 90% for across the world.

  • In Taiwan, Thailand, Mexico and Turkey patients can save 40% to 65%.
  • Singapore and South Korea -  25% to 45% on procedures saving. As these are high end countries.
  • India -  savings can start from 65% and go up to 90%.

A huge advantage over all other medical tourism destinations. 

Changing Paradigm of International patients 

Earlier the international patients from rich countries travelled to India or other middle income countries for treatment, but now the focus has been shifted towards people coming from low income countries. The few and selected rich from under developed countries travel for medical treatments as unavailability of healthcare infrastructure. Many of the patients in India come from neighboring countries and other developing nations.

AYUSH - A traditional healthcare system

Traditional Indian health practices such as Ayurveda, yoga, Unani, Siddha and homeopathy are now also being promoted to increase the numbers of medical tourists. All these comes under the Ministry of Ayush, Government of India, specifically created in 2014 to improve access to and awareness of traditional methods. Ayurveda is globally famous for its healing practises based upon natural available resources. Yoga has gained a huge following, not just for remaining healthy and fit, but it has been scientifically proven that Yoga is beneficial in many serious diseases, can is one of the best healthcare path for “Modern Age Disease” like obesity and stress, which is now common in middle income countries.Unani and Siddha are based on common platforms of healing and harmony through mind and body. The origin are different though, Siddha has its origin in Southern Indian State of Tamilnadu, whereas Unani roots are in ancient Greece. According to Ministry of Chambers and Commerce, AYUSH industry was estimated to be worth around $2.4 billion in 2014-15, which  has been growing in recent years.This traditional knowledge of health care, along with Indias reputation in modern, Western approaches, is fueling the countrys rise in medical tourism.

Cautions ahead - Challenges in Medical Tourism

Though everything about medical tourism is green and positive, there are few challenges and obstacles in the path. Among them are Lack of quality assurances between the countries and continuity of care. If patient is back to its native country, and health again goes bad, nothing can be done pertaining to treatment done in other country.No responsibility. Also Post treatment care is huge challenge, but this has been tried to overcome through telemedicine. 


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