Health Policy

India’s policies hurting medical tourism boom

Tough immigration norms among other policies by the Indian government are proving to be major blocks in the path of India becomming a major medical tourism hub.Hospitals cite Thailand, India’s biggest rival in medical tourism, as an example for attracting medical tourists Major hospitals report that their resources are being diverted to deal with paperwork for foreign patients undergoing treatment in their hospitals, including processing of medical visas, registration of such tourists and longer screening processes for certain nationalities. The Bureau of Immigration, a government body that oversees immigration and registration activities, requires medical tourists travelling to India to register themselves within 14 days of arrival with the foreigners regional registration officers. In some cases it is very difficult to put in a physical appearance as they are in a condition where they cannot move. As most medical tourists don’t have working knowledge of English, hospital staff have to accompany the patients for registering and also for collecting registration certificates. A CII-McKinsey report on the health-care industry has estimated that medical tourism generated $333 million (Rs1,452 crore then) in revenues with 100,000 such patients visiting various Indian hospitals in 2005, a 10-fold increase in five years. The study predicted that medical tourism would grow to $2 billion by 2012 at those growth rates. One suggestion that the hospitals make is to open registration counters at major airports,which could make things easier for tourists travelling to India for medical treatment.

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