The COVID-19 crisis hit the industry hard globally. India is no exception. The healthcare sector, especially medical tourism, is also a victim of the cascading effects of the Pandemic. Now, both the government and the industry are banking on the huge potential the Indian Medical Travel Value (Medical Tourism) offers. They are sensing a rapid growth in this  segment in the post-covid period.

However, this sector, especially medical tourism needs special attention and policy push by the government for its revival. The Indian tourism industry as a whole could benefit from medical tourism a lot post Corona as India has not just proved safer compared to other hitherto favourite destinations.

The country has earned significant credibility as the most ideal place for dealing with post Corona impact that people may still carry, says Prahlad Singh Patel, Union Minister of State for Tourism & Culture. The minister was confidence that India will see rapid growth in medical tourism in the post-covid period.

Atmanirbhar India is the new buzz for the revival of key sectors which include tourism as well. New normal situations due to the pandemic provide opportunities to collaborate and create a safe and hygienic ecosystem for travellers in the country. Multiple initiatives like sanitised stays and contactless check-in have been taken up.

The government, in pursuit of a goal of making India a $5 trillion economy, has already been proactively offering stimulus packages and incentives to the industry. Hence, the tourism industry It is expected to move in the right and positive direction.

Cost-effective healthcare made India a favourite destination for tourists seeking healing. The country delivers world-class care at a fraction of the costs incurred elsewhere to the people of India and those who come to us from around the world. It is well known that the cost of cardiac surgery in the US is over $100,000. There is no comparison to the cost structure with the Indian super speciality hospitals which charge around $4000. In other major, specialties such as transplants, India's capabilities and outcomes are on par and sometimes even better than several international hospitals.

Compared to big hospitals in the West, private hospitals in India offer the same high-end surgeries and care at nearly 20% less. Cost-effectiveness and expertise of Indian doctors drive the growth of medical tourism in the country. Three decades ago, a newly established super speciality hospital in India used to charge $4000 for heart surgery whereas the cost in America was used to be $50,000. Now, while the costs increased in the US, it was further reduced to less than $2000 in India while India’s clinical outcomes have improved from 94% to 99%.

It’s time we acknowledged that these Indian hospitals have been regularly delivering clinical outcomes that are on par with the global best centers and that care is delivered with the signature Indian compassion, yet another asset that we possess. Our Indian hospitals are purpose-designed and built to harness technological innovations to provide an international standard of medical care through highly skilled doctors, best practices, and cutting edge processes and protocols, all to improve clinical outcomes and minimize

Indian healthcare providers are among the largest employment providers in the country, both in terms of direct and indirect jobs. They have also made significant contributions to the economy through foreign exchange earnings from medical value travel.

It is imperative that the Government policy also supports the build-up of new infrastructure and increases the availability of hospital beds. Healthcare skilling and preventive health should also be key focus areas to take on the threats arising out of COVID-19, other Communicable diseases, and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

The future of the Indian Medical Tourism sector will heavily depend on key decisions and policy announcements made now. With the right framework of incentives and support from the Government, the healthcare and tourism sectors can bring economic value to the country, both by increasing domestic coverage as well as growing the Medical Value Travel program.

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The opinion expressed in the article is of the writer. Writer is a freelance journalist/journalist based in Delhi

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