On India’s Independence Day on 15th August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced several schemes for the health sector, the main one being several plans under the ‘Heal in India’ and ‘Heal by India’ projects. Heal in India aims to promote inbound medical tourism in many new ways.
The Heal in India scheme aims to establish the country as a global hub for medical and wellness tourism with:
- A medical infrastructure set up in 37 hospitals across 12 states to promote medical tourism.
- Interpreters and special desks at 10 identified airports.
- A multilingual portal.
- Simplified visa norms for international patients and their companions.
The national government has identified 44 countries, mainly African, Latin American, SAARC and Gulf countries, from where large numbers of people come to India for medical purposes. The cost and quality of treatment in these countries have also been taken into consideration.
The 10 identified airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Guwahati see higher footfalls of patients from these 44 countries.
The government will deploy language interpreters and set up health desks at the 10 identified airports for queries related to medical travel, transport, boarding and lodging.
The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the National Health Authority, has developed a multi-lingual portal as a one-stop shop for services provided by medical travel facilitators and hospitals with an interface for foreign patients.
Under the Heal by India scheme, there will be an online repository of health professionals including doctors, nurses and pharmacists.
The new portal displays standardised package rates based on the classification of hospitals and different systems of medicines including modern and traditional systems. It also has a grievance referral section as well as an option to submit patient feedback.
There will also be a mechanism to track the patient journey by creating a unique health ID under the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission framework and to monitor service delivery in identified health facilities in India.
The 37 selected hospitals are in 17 cities in 12 states covering Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Assam. These states see many overseas patients for treatment and wellness therapies.
The government is also working on easing medical visa norms for patients and their companions from the 44 identified countries.
The health ministry is collaborating with tourism, Ayush, civil aviation ministries, the ministry of external affairs, hospitals and other stakeholders to build a roadmap to connect overseas patients with healthcare facilities in India to boost medical travel.
The Medical Value Travel Council, co-chaired by the health and tourism ministries has been formed to create an institutional framework for streamlined integration of all stakeholders.
Highlighting India’s potential for a healthcare industry, the government promotes the low cost of medical treatment in India plus Ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and homoeopathy.
Bangladesh, Iraq, Maldives, Afghanistan, Oman, Yemen, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania account for 88% of the total international patients visiting India. Bangladesh alone accounts for half of the total medical tourists. Treatment for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and kidney ailments are most sought after by foreign patients in India. Besides modern medical treatments, several tourists also seek India’s wellness and Ayush offerings
‘Heal by India’ focuses on sending doctors abroad to perform medical procedures.