India to remain on top in medical tourism: top expert

India to remain on top in medical tourism: top expert

India to remain on top in medical tourism: top expert

India will remain on top in medical tourism for at least a decade despite attempts from countries like China and Japan to tap into the flourishing business as Indian hospitals have English language and skilled manpower advantages, a leading Indian cardiac surgeon has said.

"India's biggest advantage is the language and human technology which cannot be easily replaced", Dr K M Cherian, who is a regular invitee of the Chinese government to address the medical faculties of hospitals as well as to operate in different facilities, told PTI here.

India, which made strong forays into global medical tourism with its well established corporate hospitals would retain its top position at least for a decade, Cherian said, referring to efforts by China and Japan to break into the lucrative business.

"They cannot do it for the next 10 years. Having equipment and hospitals is not enough. The main problem for them is the language", the 71-year-old Chennai-based doctor said, highlighting that India's main advantage was the English language.

Also the Indian medical expertise is turning out to be the soft power of the country, he said.

"They (countries like China and Japan) have technology but human technology is missing. That is where we make a difference. Indian doctors are well accepted all over the world," Cherian said.

Besides performing the first coronary artery bypass surgery in India in 1975 and country's second heart transplant, Cherian also conducted the first infant cardiac surgery and the first heart and lung transplant.

He is also a pioneer in surgeries using tissue engineered conduits, autologous stem cells in heart diseases.

Cherian who performed surgeries all over the world has visited China five times in the last few years.

He performed surgeries along with fellow Chinese doctors in three hospitals, including a military hospital of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Cherian was invited this time by the Tsinghua University here to take part in the 'International Symposium on Advancement of Cardio Vascular Surgery and Cardiology' where he spoke on Palliative surgery.

Cherian has founded several medical and research institutions, including the Frontier Lifeline Hospital and Heart Foundation which was named after him.

He sees a great scope for Indian corporate hospitals and pharmaceuticals to do very well in China as and when the country permits functioning of private hospitals, like in India.

"Right now China only has government hospitals. However much they are good, they cannot serve over 1.4 billion people. It is a tremendous strain", he said.

As and when China opens-up to top Indian corporate hospitals like Apollo, Fortis and his own Frontier Lifeline, they could make a big presence here which in turn would make medicine more affordable to the burgeoning Chinese middle classes, Cherian said.

It is best way for India-China medical collaboration as 75 per cent of the personnel would be Chinese which included doctors and nurses, he said.

The corporatisation of the China's health sector would also bring about a lot of recognition to Chinese medical professionals like the way the Indian medical experts gained prominence, Cherian said.

Similarly Indian pharmaceuticals too could make a great difference to Chinese people and the government as it would help bring down the costs, he said.

"India export drugs to all over the world including US," Cherian said.

He said that being big countries like India and China should focus on medical exchanges.

"My own hospital has trained six Chinese cardiac surgeons" and suggested to both the governments to focus on promoting medical exchanges involving top experts.

He also praised Chinese Acupuncture medicine, which he said was helpful in treating an acute shoulder problem for him.

"An Indian orthopaedic specialist treated me with Acupuncture in just three sessions. The problem disappeared after that", he said.

The Acupuncture is now being used in open heart surgeries, he said, specially in minimising anaesthesia. "It is very good. I can vouch for that", he said.