Experts opine on strategies that Government has initiated and should adopt to promote MVT :
DR J SIVAKUMARAN COO, KMCH, COIMBATORE
1. The Governm ent has lllowed medical practitioners from Australia, Canada, the UK, the US and New Zealand to work in Indian hospitals.
Medical tourism is a sector which brings foreign exchange, reputation and name to our country. This results in goodwill from other countries. While India delivers a wide variety of specialised services, for a few services India becomes a destination of choice. This is because of the availability of skill, infrastructure and quality service. Accredited hospitals count in India is growing every year. This shows the intention to provide quality healthcare to our patients. Health tourism could be broadly divided as wellness tourism and medical tourism. Wellness tourism is meant for people who proactively pursue activities to maintain or enhance personal health and wellbeing. In this treatment, a licensed medical professional may or may not involve.
Medical tourism, on the other hand, is meant for people who receive treatment for a disease, ailment/condition which also includes cosmetic/dental treatments. This involves conventional medical protocol followed by a licensed medical professional. Success of any such initiatives cannot be achieved in isolation. It depends largely on Government to frame, regulate and promote various policies and procedures which helps industrial growth.
The Indian government has taken many initiatives for developing and sustaining the growth of medical tourism . A few of the important initiatives are listed below:
- Opened up healthcare sector for foreigners. Policy permitted 100% (FDI) under the automatic route for medical infrastructure facilities, research and development.
- Initiated steps to develop and promote India as medical tourism destination with the slogan ‘Global Health Destination’.
- Treated medical tourist revenue as an ‘export’ and made eligible for all incentives and earnings.
The Indian Government has initiated steps to develop and promote India as medical tourism destination with the slogan ‘Global Health Destination’.
2. The Government is organising medical tourism trade fairs, exhibitions, conferences.
- Reduced import duty on life saving equipment and state-of-the-art medical technology as it is used for medical tourism which is categorised as an export industry.
- Allowed medical practitioners from Australia, Canada, the UK, the US and New Zealand to work in Indian hospitals. This will bring knowledge sharing and capability enhancement of the industry.
- Introduced MVisa to ease out formalities, permitting multiple entries for the patients and Medical Escort Visa (MX) for attendants.
- Introduced Visas on arrival (VoA) for medical tourists to reduce bureaucratic formalities.
- Planning to cover 150 countries under e-visa scheme besides opening an airport in the NCR region in order to ease the pressure at the Delhi airport.
- Increased depreciation on medical machinery and equipment from 25% to 40%.
- Offering prime land at a subsidised rate to encourage building hospitals and healthcare infrastructure.
- Participating and organising medical tourism trade fairs, exhibitions, conferences and arranging one-onone business meeting in many potential countries in partnership with corporates.
- Conducting countrywide workshops to promote wellness tourism along with department of AYUSH.
- Permitting the usage of ‘Incredible India’ logo for wellness events approved by authorities
- Extending financial support by domestic publicity and promotion office. The expenditure on international events will be met by the overseas office.
- Extending financial support for approved medical tourism service providers, extended under the Market Development Assistance Scheme (MDA).
- Developing Haridwar-Rishikesh and Pondicherry as wellness centres to provide a complete experience for medical tourists. This will give physical healing, mental rejuvenation and spiritual enrichment.
- Promotion of medical tourism activities through various electronic media and airline magazines in collaboration with corporate players.
- Initiatives taken by many state governments like Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa to promote their states to attract medical tourism patients.
- Entered MoU between India and South Africa and also with Colombia, aiming bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector through exchange of information, data and investments.
- Planning to exempt home-stays from service tax or commercial levies to encourage people to offer home-stays to tourists by the Ministry of Tourism. There is a great potential for medical tourism in India.
Many internal and external factors may vary the flow of medical tourists. But with our consistent quality service and Government support, we can deliver international quality at Indian cost.
Dr J Sivakumaran