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Friday, November 28, 2014

Quick visa for SAARC patients to boost India's medical tourism

India's decision to provide immediate medical visa for patients from SAARC countries would cut red tape on medical tourism and accelerate medical value travel, according to health care industry officials.

The healthcare industry, at large, had always expressed apprehension about protocols and procedures that foreign patients had to go through to avail medical treatment in India.

While medical and clinical excellence always attracted patients, strict protocols and stringent rules diverted patients to Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, they said. Welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement at the SAARC summit that medical visas will be granted immediately for the patient and attendant from the regional grouping, Dr Prathap C Reddy, Chairman Apollo HospitalsBSE -0.38 % Group, termed it "well-timed".

"This will give a huge boost to medical tourism in India," he said. Industry officials say a substantial number of patients are from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Pakistan who come to India for treatment.

These are countries that lack tertiary care and hence patients come looking for medical expertise and world class healthcare.

Most of the patients come in for orthopedic, oncology and cardiac care.

However, the size of the segment is considerably high and demand exists for all super specialties, they said.

According to them, while easing trade and business regulations will boost economic development, reducing red tape on medical travel and tourism will also go a long way in catalysing growth in the healthcare sector.

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