Medical Tourism in India. A Boon or Curse? India’s annual earnings through Medical Tourism is all set to double to 8000 Crore Rupees [2000 million US dollars] by year 2012 according to a recent study. The main reasons the study claims why medical tourism would flourish in India include much more lower medical costs for various surgical procedures such as bone narrow transparent, coronary bye-pass surgery, knee transplant and liver transplant as compared to western countries and even many of the Asian countries.
Very good medical infrastructure not only in large Metros but also in tertiary towns is another reason for medical tourists favouring India. Availability of highly qualified medical professionals and nurses gives them the confidence to do such major procedures here. How will this affect Indian Health care system? As per World Bank estimates about 80% of all health spending in India is in the private sector. Most of the Posh private hospitals are out of reach of majority of Indians. They are considered as gleaming Islands of excellence surrounded by seas of medical neglect.
So a doubling of medical tourism earnings may only make these Islands of excellence more and more inaccessible to common people. Also more and more of the qualified medical professionals may opt out of Govt run Hospitals for highly paid jobs in private sector. This will further weakens Public Health Care If the Government [which now spends less than 1 percent of its GDP for health sector] can direct some part of the revenue the Health Industry will earn by medical tourism for strengthening the Public health care network the poor Indians may benefit. But that needs considerable amount of Political will and perseverance.