Revival Of Medical Tourism In India

India has emerged as a global leader in the medical tourism sector. People are increasingly crossing international borders to seek medical attention, which is known as medical tourism. Medical tourism is described as any activity that involves a foreign visitor traveling and spending at least one night at the destination to rejuvenate, restore, or maintain health through medical intervention. According to estimates from the Ministry of Tourism, India witnessed 186,644 Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) for medical purposes in 2020, accounting for seven percent of the total FTAs. The primary reasons for medical purposes include the low cost of treatment abroad, the cultural aspect of the healthcare provider, and specific procedures not available in the domestic country.

Over the past 30 years, India's healthcare sector has made great strides as seen by the significant advancements it has achieved. Healthcare has been one of the biggest contributors to revenue and is growing at a fast pace. Public and private providers both contribute to the healthcare sector. National health policies have played a vital role over the past few years to create a more inclusive healthcare system while aiming to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in a structured manner.

India has highly qualified medical professionals and state-of-the-art equipment. The medical services and facilities are backed by the World Health Organization, and the US Food and Drug Administration. Moreover, India offers less expensive treatment options compared to the US and UK without compromising the quality of healthcare services. The treatment costs in India are around a quarter of those in America. In terms of alternate medical treatment, the Indian medical treatment systems of Yoga, Ayurveda, rejuvenation therapy, and Panchakarma are among the most ancient methods of medical treatment in the world. The southern state of Kerala has developed medical tourism services as one of its core products for promoting tourism in the region.

Based on the Medical Tourism Index 2020, India is ranked 3rd as the most preferred destination for medical care across the world pre-COVID. However, in 2020-21 index, India dropped down to 10th position in the top 46 countries, 12th out of the world's top 20 wellness tourism markets, and 5th out of 10 wellness tourism destinations in Asia-Pacific.

India has highly qualified medical professionals and state-of-the-art equipment. The medical services and facilities are backed by the World Health Organization, and the US Food and Drug Administration

During the nationwide lockdown in India due to the COVID-19 outbreak, planned hospital operations dropped by as much as 80 percent while unplanned systems reduced by 66 percent. Following the pandemic, many healthcare providers established additional facilities to handle emergency care or offer specialized treatments. Reputable hospitals in India are actively soliciting money to carry out their growth plans.

Steps Taken for Revival
The promotion of Ayurveda, Yoga, and other Indian systems of medicine in the global market is one of the government's many measures to support India's emergence as a center of medical tourism. In comparison to the $272 million allotted in the 2020­21 budget, around $381 million has been set aside for the Ministry of AYUSH in the Union Budget 2021­22. The round table conference on `Building Brand India' was held in New Delhi in May 2022, and Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, the Union Minister of Health, Family Welfare, and Chemicals and Fertilizers, spoke there. He emphasized how India is becoming the center of attention for Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Yoga.

In the following two quarters, corporate hospital traffic and revenue both exceeded pre-pandemic levels. In India, the $6 billion medical tourism sector is anticipated to grow to $13 billion by 2026. Industry experts claim that during the past six months, medical tourism has gradually returned to normal.

As international traffic is better than it was before the epidemic, it is anticipated that the number of foreign patients would increase by 12 percent in the upcoming quarters. Recently, the government revealed the plans to introduce the AYUSH Mark. This logo would boost the Indian medical tourism industry and lend credibility to AYUSH items there. Additionally, it is noted that 165 nations now offer medical visas and visas for medical attendants for those seeking ayurvedic, therapy. A large increase in patient flow is anticipated as the center works to establish India as a destination for wellness and medical travel under the slogan `Heal in India'.

For those coming to India specifically for medical treatment, special arrangements have been provided. Foreigners traveling to India for medical care now have access to a new form of visa called a `Medical Visa', according to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Medical Value Travel is one of 12 Champion Services Sectors that will benefit from a $641 million special fund that was established by the government in 2018. The e-Tourist visa, introduced in September 2014 to simplify the visa process, was later extended to cover medical visits. The Marketing Development Assistance Scheme (MDA) provides money to authorized travel operators.

India is the most popular location because of its affordable and good medical care. A cardiac treatment, for instance, costs between $40,000 and $60,000 in the US, $30,000 in Singapore, $12,000 to $15,000 in Thailand, but just $3000 to $6000 in India. According to the medical industry, India, a major source of patients are from West Asia, Africa, and surrounding areas, has the potential to draw patients from the developed world as well, particularly those who wish to bypass lengthy waiting periods for operations and those who are uninsured.

The Indian government is moving forward to make India the No.1 Destination for Medical Tourism in the world, tripling it to $12 billion within four years, creating a new industry that generates millions of jobs across states.