The practice of visiting outside of one’s own country to receive medical care is known as medical tourism. Media, scholars, and policymakers are all paying attention to the rise in medical tourism. The phrase originally described patients who travelled to developed countries from less developed ones in search of therapies that weren’t available to them there.
Patients are now travelling from wealthier to less developed nations to get healthcare, resulting in both qualitative and quantitative changes in patient mobility. This movement is mostly due to increasing marketing and online consumer knowledge about the availability of medical services, relatively low treatment costs in less developed countries, the availability of cheap airfares, and these factors.
People frequently stay in the other nation after receiving medical treatment, which is what genuinely puts the term “tourism” in medical tourism. Thus, visitors may make the most of their stay by going sightseeing, going on day trips, or engaging in any other usual tourist activities.
The industry for medical value travel , which consists mostly of the 1.40 crore individuals who go to other nations for better medical care, was expected to be worth US$ 44.8 billion in 2019. The industry is anticipated to expand between 2020 and 2027 at a compound annual growth rate of 21.1%.
According to the medical value travel Index 2022–23, India is ranked 10th out of the top 46 nations in the globe. Despite the devastating effects of the COVID-19 epidemic on the travel and hospitality sectors, medical value travel is estimated to have been worth US$ 5–6 billion in India, where MVT was anticipated to be US$ 9 billion by 2020. In India, MVT is anticipated to increase to US$ 13 billion by 2022.
The number of international visitors arriving on grounds of medical visas was 2,33,918 in 2015, and it more than quadrupled to 2017. With an increase in tourists from 495,056 in 2017 to 697,000 in 2019, India had over 40% rise in FTAs between 2017 and 2019. Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Syria, Zimbabwe, West Indies, Oman, Bangladesh, Maldives, Mongolia, Indonesia, and Iraq are frequently the origin markets for medical tourists from India. The potential for India to aggressively court medical tourists from other regions of the world, such as Europe and the Americas, is enormous.
India is one of the most popular destinations for medical value travel . Why is that?
- High-quality healthcare services globally
Modern Hospitals in India provide care in a variety of specialties, from cosmetic procedures to difficult heart, orthopaedic, and spinal surgery. Hospitals provide excellent post-operative care facilities and the most up-to-date technology required to perform sophisticated medical operations. In India, there are 800 NABH-accredited hospitals and 36 Joint Commission International-accredited hospitals. Estimates indicate that India has 12.5 million licensed medical professionals and that 4 lakh pharma students graduate annually. Additionally, India supplies 60 percent of the world’s immunisation needs and makes 60,000 generic medications across 60 therapeutic categories. Although the ecosystem is strong, it needs to be properly channelled and used.
- A low cost of care
Heart bypass will cost US$ 7900 in India compared to US$ 15000, US$ 12100, US$ 17200, US$ 13900, and US$ 26,000 in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey, and South Korea, respectively. Similar to the cost of hip replacement, which would be about US$ 9,700 in India, US$ 16,350 in Singapore, and US$ 19,500 in South Korea. This is the main reason why foreign travellers might select India as their preferred medical vacation location.
- Devoted ministry to complementary medicine:
Perhaps only India has a whole ministry devoted to yoga, rejuvenation treatments, and alternative health. These treatments, which are based on time-honoured traditional medical procedures, are becoming more and more popular globally as a means of guiding the global population away from the cycle of sickness and treatment and toward a lifestyle of preventive and holistic health. While deliberate attempts are being made to resuscitate and promote alternative treatments, along with stress-relieving and rejuvenation therapies, India provides wellness tourism based on the age-old principles of Ayurveda, Yoga, and meditation.
The medical value of travel is being improved through several initiatives
The Indian government has implemented several steps and policies to improve MVT during the past seven years.
- To make obtaining a visa more simple, the government expanded the e-tourist visa regime to include medical appointments. The provision made medical attendants eligible for e-tourist visas, and also streamlined the medical visa application procedure to allow for numerous entries and extended stays.
- In order to serve as an umbrella organisation and offer an institutional framework for furthering the promotion of medical and wellness tourism, the National Medical & Wellness Tourism Board (NMWTB) was established in 2015.
- In order to promote India as a wellness destination and share India’s fundamental value proposition of holistic health with the globe, the “Heal in India” campaign was subsequently conceptualised.
- MVT was chosen as one of the “Champion Services Industries” in 2018 and would get a portion of the 5,000 crore dedicated fund the Central Government established to support these sectors.
- In the Union Budget 2021–2022 the Government added an additional INR 2,970 crores for the Ministry of AYUSH.
- For the purpose of implementation, guidelines for the certification of Panchakarma and Ayurveda Centers have been issued.
In the post-COVID world, what does medical value travel look like?
The worldwide population, who are constrained by a fast-paced modern lifestyle, already has a significant desire for wellness and alternative treatments. People are turning eastward because of the expensive prices for services and the lengthy waiting times. India is a source of affordable medical care and wellness services for nations lacking appropriate medical infrastructure.
The COVID-19 epidemic has brought attention back to healthy living, preventative medications, nutrition, and immunity-building amid such rising demand for MVT and popularity. The demand for healthcare and wellness services is set to soar in the post-COVID era, with more individuals than ever searching out for avenues of excellent medical treatment and holistic wellbeing. In such a situation, India is primed to be a leader in medical value travel , and the industry is looking north.