India has started to make its presence felt very strongly in the medical tourism sector that was initially dominated by developed countries like the US, Singapore and Malaysia, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said today.
She was speaking at a conference here on the third edition of 'Advantage Healthcare India' Summit, slated to be held in Bengaluru on October 12-14.
Over 70 countries and 600 buyers from Africa, the Middle-East, Europe, the US, the UK, and Asia are set to take part in the event. The summit is meant to promote India as a premier global healthcare destination and streamline healthcare services export.
The government, she said, has liberalised rules to make it "very easy" for foreign tourists to get a visa for medical treatment in India. "Last November, the Government of India actually liberalised the visa regime to make it very easy now to get a visa for medical treatment. If anybody is still facing any problems on that, we would be happy to support them," Teaotia said at the conference organised by Ficci here.
However, she suggested that the domestic healthcare industry should come together and analyse the policy interventions needed to boost the sector's prospects. "... The domestic (healthcare) industry must also come together to talk about what it is that we need to do together, what are the policy interventions we need or the regulatory framework we need in order to serve our clients much better, whether they are domestic or international to look at the quality issues," the secretary added.
Ficci Secretary General A Didar Singh, who also spoke, felt that medical value travel can be a USD 9 billion opportunity for India by 2020. "To fully exploit this potential, the country needs to diversify its sources of medical tourism and create a strong value proposition for foreign patients by focusing on parameters like cost effectiveness, alternative medicine, clinical outcomes, tourism friendliness, accreditation, and patient centricity," he said.
Advantage Healthcare India 2017 will showcase the country's medical capabilities and create opportunities for collaboration between India and other nations to boost healthcare services export. The medical value travel industry has emerged as one of the fastest growing segments of Indian tourism industry. According to a Ficci-IMS report, more than 500,000 foreign patients seek treatment in India each year, making it a key medical tourism destination in Asia.