It's the healing touch

Comfortable Stay

It's the healing touch

Familiar shores: International medical travellers who come here get access to class treatment at an affordable cost.

“And that is thanks to the expertise and quality of personnel available, technological advancements and the salubrious climate here. From the wellness tourism perspective, responses are coming in even from Asia-Pacific, Scandinavian countries and the like,” informs K Viswanatha Reddy, Director, Department of Tourism. Karnataka, in fact, was among the first states in the country to promote its expertise and technological superiority in treating complex ailments with fast access to urgent treatments.

Patients from 74 countries come to Narayana Hrudayalaya for heart and cancer care, for orthopaedic and other surgeries. “I don’t think Obama’s statement has made any difference as not many Americans are coming to India in large numbers. However, it’s a matter of time before the trickle gets converted to a tide. The ‘superbug’ story has not made any difference either as all these discussions are still at an elitist level without any scientific foundation,” informs Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Hrudayalaya. “We have a large number of doctors who have gone abroad, had exposure to Western medicine and have come back to the City,” he adds.

Medical travellers, who hail from Africa and Asia, come to the City predominantly for healthcare and those from Europe and the Americas,  for wellness. “The world class clinical quality here matches any best centres in the world. Today, many of our hospitals have clinical skills  with state-of-the-art technology, processes and protocols which are accredited and accepted internationally and a patient-centric approach,” says P Davison, Associate Vice-President, Fortis Hospitals Bangalore.

 “The medical travellers get access to the best in class treatment at an affordable cost. A bypass surgery, which will cost about $ 50,000 to $ 60,000 in the US is $ 5000 to $ 6000 in India. The patients feel comfortable here because our hospitals offer food of their choice, language interpretation, accommodation of family members and local travel,” adds Davison.

What’s more, Bangalore has specialists who practise almost all systems of medicine while India is an eye-opener for most visitors. Which is why the package sometimes include sightseeing tours as well. Viswanatha Reddy informs that this is specially for the bystanders and certain hospitals provide such facilities.

“Here, the Government and the private sector work together in promotions and meet at regular intervals,” he adds. While health tourism may be in the pink of health, how does it help the ordinary folk here? “Once the medical tourism industry blossoms here, the common man will benefit mainly from the foreign exchange inflow. There will be greater employment opportunities as the international patients’ needs are sophisticated. They need hotels, holidays, personal travel etc. This will definitely subsidise the poor patients’ operation in hospitals like ours,” says Devi Shetty.

But it is not always a smooth ride. “The greatest challenge is the difficulty in getting medical visa for the foreign patients. It is very hard for patients from Bangladesh or Pakistan to come to India because the visa formalities are very stringent. After they come, they have to report to the police station at regular intervals. However, we have to respect the sentiments of the security advisors. Other than the visa and the traffic hazards, Bangalore has no shortcoming in promoting medical tourism,” he adds.

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