Event: CII- Global Exhibition on Services

Topic: Medical Value Travel in India

Venue: Pragati Maidan

Attendee: Mr. Aritro Dasgupta

This discussion session on medical value travel in India was part of the 3 day CII event termed as the Global Exhibition on Services. The major point of discussion here was about the concept of medical tourism or medical value travel as it is known as in some circles. The discussion panel consisted of experts from different professional fields – medical, tourism, government, logistics etc. – who gathered to pool in their knowledge areas and come up with solutions best suited to developing a progressive medical tourism environment within India. They discussed major challenges facing India today as well as opportunities which make India a desired location to overcome them.

The panel consisted of following members:

S. No. Name Designation Organization Session Role
1 Dr. Shubnum Singh Dean- Education Max Healthcare Institute Ltd. Session Moderator
2 Mr. J.S. Deepak Additional Secretary Ministry of Commerce & Industry Key Speaker
3 Mr. Udyan Dravid Regional Director Fortis Healthcare (India) Ltd. Key Speaker
4 Ms. Christina Demoares Founder International Medical Tourism Chamber of Commerce Key Speaker
5 Ms. Julie Munro President MTQUA (Medical Tourism Quality Assurance Council) Key Speaker
6 Mr. Ian Matondo Director Indizim Health Pvt. Ltd. Key Speaker
7 Dr. Harinder Singh Sidhu Africa Business Head Apollo Hospitals Group Key Speaker


Dr. Shubnum Singh

Being the session moderator, this speaker was in charge of getting the discussion started. She started off by describing what exactly the committee meant by the phrase – ‘medical value travel’. She said that when patients travel from one country to another for the purpose of helping in their medical needs, there is very limited scope for ‘tourism’, thus the omission of the word. Dr. Singh was in charge of introducing each of the speakers before they spoke and also gave us introductions of the respective organizations which the panelists were representing here.

Mr. Udyan Dravid

This speaker represented Fortis Healthcare which is truly among the largest of inbound medical tourism players in the country. He was pleased to confirm that meetings like these traditionally only involved members from medical and tourism professions but on this occasion had members from other fields whose contributions are equally important in developing this business opportunity with minimum stress. He also congratulated the organizers for naming the event appropriately and he agreed that the component of ‘tourism’ was pretty low for medical travelers who were seeking value. Mr. Dravid being from the private sector, made an open request to the government authorities to ease the visa regime presently being followed. He spoke about the requirement for enabling multiple entry and exit points for such travelers. He also stressed on the need to enable easier entry-exit norms for those family members or friends accompanying the value seeking medical traveler. When a traveler comes to India or elsewhere seeking medical value, he / she does not visit only for the direct medical benefits, but indeed for an overall package where intangible psychological benefits play a big role.

Mr. J.S. Deepak

Being a government representative, this speaker gave us some insights of developments which have recently taken place. He spoke about how traditionally the government as a whole has been unfavourably considered a slow moving mechanism but now things are improving at a faster pace. An online portal has recently been opened where foreigners can log on and register their medical requirements for which they wish to visit India. Visa processing for these applicants and their companions will then be fast tracked to enable smoother operations. Also India is increasing its radar of Visa-on-arrival with more countries being added to the list on a regular basis. This will have a positive impact on the medical tourism numbers.

Dr. Harinder Singh Sidhu

Dr. Sidhu has spent many years with the Apollo group across the country as well as abroad and has thus acquired vast experience. He says that operationally there isn’t a major difference between Singapore or somewhere in India. Ultimately anyone who visits a hospital comes there for treatment usually at the lowest cost possible. A video was shown of a Bangladeshi visitor who had come to India for treatment and went home highly satisfied not just because of the treatment but also because of the overall behavior he experience during his visit. Apparently the entire hospital which he visited, treated him with the best of courtesy.

Ms. Julie Munro

This speaker was more concerned about the quality aspect and how certain things can be amended to create an even better environment of medical tourism in this country. She in fact does not agree with the title of the discussion claiming that the word ‘value’ gives the impression of India being a country where people came for medical help only to reduce their costs and get a higher ‘bang per buck’. She said that instead India was a land which had a solid reputation on the medical frontier for many years and had no reason to downplay it by using the word ‘value’. She spoke about how quality has become even more important in today’s world as people from across the rest of Asia, the Middle East, Africa and even parts of Europe to cure themselves of diseases and to get surgeries done. Such visitors want the very best of facilities and infrastructure within the hospital.

Ms. Christina Demoares

This speaker explained the major differences in the approach towards seeking medical solutions in the west as opposed to India. She said that in the west, individual surgeons and doctors picked up reputations and patients sought them for treatment. They then went to whichever hospital these well known medical professionals were associated with. In India on the other hand hospitals or hospital chains become famous and patients visit these institutions for their treatments irrespective of reputations of individual doctors. The assumption is that the doctors and surgeons at these top-notch places would be similarly of top quality. She thus highlighted the importance hospitals play in a market like India.

Mr. Ian Matondo

Mr. Matondo belongs to Zimbabwe and his firm is in the business of raising awareness among African people about the prospect of medical tourism in India. They then help out groups which wish to visit India to process their formalities. The speaker feels that much of Africa can share a very fruitful relationship with India with regards to medical tourism. He feels that a lot of this is taking place already but of course more can be done. He says that Africa does not have the kind of facilities which India has but while Europe or North America would be expensive for most, India is a viable option. Nigeria is one country which is contributing majorly to sending medical travelers to India and other countries like Morocco are also fast catching up. His own country Zimbabwe sees quite a few such travelers go to neighboring South Africa instead.

On that note the discussion came to a close. The panelists as well as the delegates broke for a round of networking High Tea which led to further ideas being exchanged and developed among those present at the hall.

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