Originally published in www.privatepractice.md
India devotes only 5.1 percent of its GDP in the health sector. India’s burgeoning healthcare sector has created waves across the world with its enticing medical tourism venture. This and a steadily rising economy have been the two factors that have made the Indian healthcare industry a serious contender to global healthcare leadership. Despite these developments, the health status of millions of its citizens remains below standard. Utter ignorance in the rural areas and the blatant misuse of people’s money by those in power has brought about a vast difference of healthcare status between the rich and the poor.
The Indian healthcare industry is a conundrum.
The state-of-the-art healthcare institutions in the public sector cater only to the few that make it to the privileged list. The few mentionable exceptions are just a handful. Most of these so-called centers of healing are very poorly equipped in terms of manpower, medical equipments, and resources. The input from the government coffers for these institutions is quite less compared to the population it has to cover, but misuse of resources have made an indelible mark in the Indian public healthcare sector making the scenario worse. Surprisingly, only 0.9 percent of the country’s GDP is dedicated to the public healthcare which is a gross understatement. There is much to be done to recover the lost glory of these government-owned institutions, and most people are much too disillusioned to try anything new. The healthcare education provided by many of these institutions is also below par and need overhauling.
With regard to the private sector, the monetary aspect is ingrained deeply, and most of these institutions cater to the high and mighty. Exceptions are few and far between where healthcare is provided without this distinction. Charitable institutions worth mentioning are few. About 4.2 percent of India’s GDP lies in the private health sector. This makes healthcare costs reasonably high, driving most of its own citizens to the doors of dilapidated government institutions which merely exist. The investment made by these private institutions is recovered by a steady flow of medical tourists from across the globe. The comparatively lesser cost in these high-end institutions is a boon to the medical tourists who avail the same treatment at a fraction of the cost they would have incurred abroad. An estimate that a mitral valve repair surgery in India would cost only around $ 7000 compared to the $ 200,000 in some of the hospitals abroad is just the tip of the iceberg. This is just one example of the cost-benefit aspect for foreign medical tourists. The healthcare standards in these institutions are comparable to those abroad and hence are a low-cost, affordable option to foreigners. Qualified and experienced specialists in different medical and surgical specialties, excellent nursing and paramedical staff, and affordable charges make these institutions successful and popular.
Medical Tourism Can Provide Much Needed Capital.
Having stated these differences, there is hardly a reason why one should not consider options elsewhere when healthcare costs are high. Numerous other countries have made inroads in the medical tourism industry making billions in the process. Medical tourism has rooted itself deeper due to the current depression in the world economy forcing people to look for viable options. India is a rapidly growing economy and would look at medical tourism seriously if it ever thought of making a mark in the global market.