New Delhi: NITI Aayog and Ministry of Commerce had recently included medical travel industry in one of the 12 ‘champion sectors’ they wished to promote under the services promotion council. But the $9-billion India’s health & medical tourism industry stands still under the severe blow of corona outbreak.
The Foundation of Healthcare & Wellness Promotion, an association of medical tourism players, held a meeting with private players recently and discussed the situation amidst the travel breakdown in the world and with no foreseen resolution to COVID 19.
Medical value travel, which includes patients travelling to India for treatment both in modern medicine and AYUSH sector, is estimated to be $3 billion market for India.
Dr Abhik Moitra, President of HBG Medical Assistance, one of the medical tourism industry players, said: “The geographies from where our patients arrive, — Africa, Central Asia and most of West Asia — are still in early stages of coronavirus. There, the cycle may last even longer as they started late. Thus, to expect business to start back in one month’s time is a distant dream.”
He said the industry will suffer heavily for the next six months and may take even longer for patients to find courage to travel again.
Amit Sharma, founder and CEO of eExpediseHealthcare, another MVT company, said: “In the last decades, the healthcare industry has seen innovative and technological advancement in the clinical aspect. Many foreign patients come to India for affordable treatment, but the increase in coronavirus cases is taking a toll on medical tourism. We welcome and support the move by the government for the safety and security of the international patients but the $9-billion Indian’s health & medical tourism industry stands still with the Aworld epidemic.”
The Medical Tourism players have urged the government to Recognise Medical Value Tourism companies as an independent industry and to provide financial stimulus and support. They have also suggested to involve COVID impact council along with FICCI to support the MVT industry, which brings in so much forex to the country.
They have also requested the government to reduce restrictions on international patients coming to India as soon as possible, with adequate measures to ensure such patients don’t spread COVID-19.