The Foundation of Healthcare and Promotion, India has asked the government to ease restrictions on international patients to India as soon as the lockdown is lifted, while they take adequate measures to ensure each patient is protected. Many of the 4,000 medical travel agencies in India, are at risk of closing.

The medical tourism sector in India was one of the first group of businesses to close due to the global pandemic. As the virus quickly spread across Indian states, borders were sealed, flights grounded, and visas were revoked. International patients travel to India for cardiology, orthopaedics, IVF, dentistry, transplants, and Ayurveda medicine.

Most hospitals and clinics rely mostly on domestic patients but many of the 4,000 medical travel agencies, which are responsible for most inbound medical tourism, are at risk of closing.

While a handful of clinics and hospitals have moved to telemedicine for customers in Myanmar and Uzbekistan. most medical tourism relies on travel as neither the industry in India, nor the customers are geared up for telemedicine.

The Foundation of Healthcare and Promotion wants the government to start recognising medical tourism as an independent industry. It has suggested support as the industry brings in foreign exchange to India.

Dalip Chopra of Foundation of Healthcare and Promotion, says “Medical tourists will probably be much more aware of where they go and how medically safe the country seems to be to them, and medical travel destinations, like India, that have had a lower number of COVID-19 cases and fewer deaths relating to the virus, are likely to have a faster recovery.”

The number of medical tourists is expected to remain subdued at least for the rest of 2020.