Kochi: It was only recently that NITI Ayog (former Planning Commission) under the Government of India named Kerala as the top performer based on various public health indicators in its annual Health Index. But private healthcare providers in the State are startled by the low Medical Value Travel (MVT) turnout in Kerala despite the admirable achievements of the State in the healthcare sector.
India has been doing well as the hub of MVT every year and the prime reason for it is the low cost of medical treatment in the country compared to that of Western Europe, North America and even some Southeast Asian countries.
According to a recent study, India’s share of the global MVT market is about 18 per cent. It has also been estimated that India’s medical tourism industry is worth $9 billion and will account for 20 per cent of the global market share by 2020. NITI Ayog also identified MVT as the major foreign exchange earner for India.
According to experts in the field, Kerala has only a meagre share of 6 to 7 per cent of the MVT market considering that the State itself is one of the largest tourist destinations in the country and there are 50,000 to 60,000 foreign tourists coming to India seeking medical assistance for their various problems. The State has 33 NABH-accredited hospitals which is the highest in the country.
As far as the business is concerned, Dr. Harish Pillai, CEO, Aster Hospitals & Clinics, India opines MVT will enable cross-subsidising domestic patients besides earning foreign exchange. “The incremental revenue offered by international patient facilitates better investments in infrastructure, technology, and staff training which will naturally benefit all domestic patients,” he recently said in a blog post.
However, limited air connectivity to cities in Kerala is often cited as a dampener and low visibility of MVT prospects in Kerala is also speculated to be another issue that needs to be addressed. “Connectivity is one of the major issues as most flights, except the ones from West Asia, operate to cities such as Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai. Most of the foreigners who come to Kerala are from the Gulf countries,” said Cdr. (Rtd.) JelsonKavalakkat, CEO of Aster Medcity. It is surprising that the medical tourism sector is still lagging behind, despite having many achievements in the medical sector compared to the rest of the country, he added.
Fr. Johnson Vazhapilly, Executive Director, Rajagiri Hospitals said that low visibility of MVT can only be addressed through undertaking proactive campaigns. “The Kerala Medical Value Travel Society is all set to launch a web portal which will assist medical tourists to know more about the hospitals and facilities here. Earlier, medical tourists mostly came to the State for undergoing medical checkups. Now most of them visit Kerala to pursue medical treatment,” he said.
Against the backdrop of these efforts to attract more medical tourists to Kerala, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is organising the seventh edition of Kerala Health Tourism (KHT) 2019 on July 3 and 4 at Le Meriden, Kochi. The summit will deliberate on the theme: ‘Kerala – an Emerging Global Hotspot for MVT’.
“Although Kerala is the leading State in India as far as tourism is concerned, tourists travelling to Kerala for medical needs remain still very minimal. A rare combination of advanced facilities, technologies, skilled doctors and low cost of treatment are the advantages Kerala possesses. But unfortunately the State is not able to attract medical tourists to the fullest of its potential,” said John Kuruvila, Director, CII Kerala.
Organised in association with the Service and Export Promotion Council (SEPC), the seventh edition of KHT will also witness an exhibition of medical equipment.
Key Highlights of KHT 2019
Delegates from Bangladesh, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Iraq, Maldives, Yemen and Uzbekistan will participate in the conference. Procurement managers from leading hospitals in Kerala will also be taking part in the event. Exclusive B2B and B2G sessions will also be held as part of the event.
The conference will have sessions on Clinical Excellence in Kerala: the Value Proposition; Health Insurance: A Key Catalyst to Promote MVT; Role of Healthcare Facilitator: Critical Link or Underbelly; Role of Government in Promoting MVT: Centre and State; Accreditation and Quality Initiatives in Kerala; Role of Holistic Medicine in Promoting MVT: The Kerala Model and Role of Medical Equipment Manufacturers in Promoting MVT.
Tentative speakers at the conference include Sudhanshu Pandey IAS, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry; Sangeeta Godbole IRS, Director General, SEPC; Gokulam Gopalan, Chairman, Sree Gokulam Medical College; Dr. M I Sahadulla, Chairman & Managing Director, KIMS Healthcare Management; Fr. Johnson Vazhappilly, ED & CEO, Rajagiri Hospital; Rohit Sathe, President – Healthcare, Philips Indian Subcontinent; Dr. Abhitabh Gupta, Managing Director, Paramount Health Services and Insurance TPA Pvt. Ltd.; Dr. Pradeep Kumar, Chairman, Kinder Medical Group, Singapore; Dr. Dilip Panikar, Sr. Consultant Neurosurgery, Aster Medcity; Dr. Sundaramoorthy, Chairman & MD, Lotus Eyecare; Dr. Junaid Rahman, Medical Director, Sree Sudheendra Medical Mission and Dr. A M Anvar, Chairman & Managing Director, Punarnava.
Dr. Harish Pillai
The incremental revenue offered by international patient facilitates better investments in infrastructure, technology, and staff training which will naturally benefit all domestic patients
Fr. Johnson Vazhapilly
Earlier, medical tourists mostly came to the State for undergoing medical checkups. Now most of them visit Kerala to pursue medical treatment
A rare combination of advanced facilities, technologies, skilled doctors and low cost of treatment are the advantages Kerala possesses