12 January 2010

India’s cost-effective and efficient medical sector

Government pushes medical tourism in India.
India’s Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss says country’s cost-effective and efficient medical sector has made it a favored destination for healthcare.

Dr. Ramadoss, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, said this while releasing the Incredible India Brochure on Medical Tourism August 30. The Indian systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Yoga, Panchakarma, Rejuvenation Therapy are among the most ancient systems of medical treatment, of the world, he said.

Southern states of India, especially, Kerala has developed Health Tourism as one of the products for the promotion of tourism in Kerala. He said most hotels and resorts are coming up with the spas and Ayurveda Centers as an integral part in Kerala. India has an international reputation of being a knowledge-based economy.” The available talent base of over 500,000 doctors and seven 700,000 nursing professionals, India can provide Medical and Health care of international standard at comparatively low cost, he said.

Many surgical procedures are available at one-tenth the cost of those in developed countries and “there is no waiting period for elective surgery, he added. However, he said the situation should not make authorities neglect the healthcare for Indians. There are many areas in which public healthcare needs to advance in order that India’s workers can be a productive force for the global economy. He minister said nearly 80 per cent of spending on healthcare is now in the private sector. India’s pharma sector has done commendable work in bringing low-cost essential drugs to the market, including international markets, the Minister said.

Ambika Soni, Minister for Tourism Culture, emphasized that there is a need to promote India as the new emerging Medical Value Travel destination abroad. She said the private and public hospitals need to synergize their efforts to promote India as the Healthcare destination worldwide. The Healthcare Industry will also have to standardize their processes and make its functioning more transparent and accountable, she said.

She further said that India’s healthcare sector has emerged as the largest in the service sector. Indians now spend over Rs. 1, 00,000 Crore a year on healthcare, and the sector contributes 6.2 percent to the GDP. Experts project that by 2012, it will contribute 8 percent to the GDP and employ 9 million people.

But one of the many challenges it faces is to provide good quality, affordable healthcare to all. For this, there is a need to reduce inequalities, imbalances that exist between regions, cities and villages and different socioeconomic groups. The Minister said that India has done exceptionally well in the last three years in the tourism sector, with overseas footfalls expanding at near 20% average every year.

By January this year, 3.3 million travelers had already visited India, spending close to $ 5 billion. The domestic travel is also witnessing rapid growth. Some 368 million Indians are venturing out of their homes, based on rising incomes, lower aviation costs, and more leisure time. The World Travel and Tourism Council has forecast that tourism will grow at a rapid rate of 8.8% per year for the next ten years, the highest in the world. The Industry is projected to attract a capital investment of $21 billion by 2014, up from about $10.2 billion estimated in 2004, according to a WTTC survey.

Equally significant is the impact this growth will have on employment. The travel and tourism industry already accounts for one of every nine job opportunities created in India, currently aggregating over 20 million employees. It is estimated that this industry generates more jobs per unit investment than any other sector, she added. - August 31, 2006.



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