KHT Evaluates Prospects of Kerala’s MVT Sector
Kochi: Giving a new impetus to Medical Value Travel (MVT) in Kerala, Kerala Health Tourism (KHT) 2019 conference, organised recently by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) at Le Meridien Kochi, has chalked out a road map for making the State a global hotspot of MVT by leveraging world-class medical expertise and accredited practices of its healthcare providers.
In the opening remarks of the conference, Dr. Harish Pillai, Chief Executive Officer – Aster Hospitals & Clinics India, said the State has the potential to take the operations in the MVT sector to a much higher level, creating a whole new avenue for more job opportunities in the State. “If all stakeholders in the medical and tourism industries join hands with the State Government, we can increase Kerala’s prospects in the MVT sector,” said Pillai. Recently, NITI Aayog (formerly called Planning Commission of India) has named Kerala as the top performer based on various public health indicators, in its annual Health Index. It is 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. Paul Thomas, Chairman of CII Kerala, said in his speech that medical tourism in India is expected to grow to 7-8 billion dollars by 2020. NITI Aayog also recently identified MVT as the major foreign exchange earner for India.
Dr. Pillai said that Kerala had invested significantly in social sector and already achieved the millennium development goals. India has been doing well as the hub of MVT 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 of the Southeast Asian countries, he said.
Fr. Johnson Vazhapilly, Executive Director, Rajagiri Hospitals, delivering special address at the opening ceremony, observed that lesser air connectivity to Kerala is the major problem being faced by the MVT segment in the State. “We can say with pride that it is the cost advantage which is drawing patients from across the world to Kerala. However, it is important to scale up our operations in the feild. We are equipped with the best medical infrastructure and talent to address all the needs of medical value travellers,” he added.
At present, Kerala accounts for a meagre 6 to 7 per cent of the total MVT market share 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. Gokulam Gopalan, Chairman, Gokulam Group in his address said that long waiting times and exorbitant costs are driving people in the developed nations to seek quality healthcare at affordable costs at developing nations. He added that Kerala can flourish as a centre of health tourism, by maintaining quality at every level of healthcare delivery.
Delegates from Bangladesh, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Iraq, Maldives, Yemen and Uzbekistan participated in the conference.
Delivering a special address, Aishath Mohammed Didi, Ambassador, Republic of Maldives, said Kerala continues to be the most preferred healthcare destination for Maldivians. Didi added that India and Maldives have been sharing a unique relation in the healthcare sector for almost a century. According to her, Maldivians have adopted the ingredients for their traditional medicines from the traditional medicine stream of Kerala. “We come to Kerala seeking healthcare not because of its proximity, but due to the good quality of its healthcare offerings. We always felt welcome here,” Didi said.
Abdulmalk Abdullah Al Eryani, Ambassador, Republic of Yemen, said that India has been a major treatment centre for Yemenis for the past 40 years. “In Kerala, we have found a very safe environment for our patients,” said Al Eryani. Jyothi Kaur, Deputy Director General, Service and Export Promotion Council (SEPC), also addressed the opening ceremony.
Procurement managers from leading hospitals in Kerala took part in the event. Exclusive B2B and B2G sessions were also held. Organised in association with SEPC, the seventh edition of KHT also witnessed an exhibition of medical equipment hosted along with it.
The conference had 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.
The other speakers at the conference included Dr. Pradeep Kumar, Chairman, Kinder Medical Group; Dr. Sundaramoorthy, Chairman & MD, Lotus Eyecare; Dr. DilipPanikar, Sr. Consultant – Neurosurgery, Aster Medcity; Dr. Roy Mukkada, Sr. Consultant &HoD – Medical Gastroenterology, VPS Lakeshore; Dr. Moni Abraham Kuriakose, Director, Cochin Cancer Research Centre; Dr. Shiv K Nair, Sr. Consultant &HoD – Department of Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery, Rajagiri Hospital; Dr. Shabeer Ali, KIMS Healthcare Management; Dr. Abhitabh Gupta, Managing Director, Paramount Health Services and Insurance TPA; Dr. V A Joseph, Director – Relations, Rajagiri Hospital & former Chairman, MD & CEO, South Indian Bank; Y R Vinod, Chief Marketing & Business Development Officer, VPS Healthcare; MihirVohra, Founder & CEO, Magnus Medi; SujithNatesan, Secretary, Medical Tourism Facilitators Forum of Kerala; Dr. A M Anvar, Chairman & MD, Punarnava; Jose Dominic, Founder, CGH Earth and AnubhaSinha, CEO, Rays 3D. Destination Kerala was the magazine partner of the event.