The healthcare market in Goa is undergoing a metamorphosis with more specialties being introduced and major hospitals slated for expansion, finds out Rita Dutta.
In spite of being India's most popular tourist state, and flaunting one of the highest per capita incomes in the country, medical facility in Goa leaves much to be desired. And hence at times, of the 13.7 lakh population of Goa, one will often find most of them seeking medical help outside the state, sometimes travelling as far as Belgaum, Bangalore or Mumbai.
With a high rate of patients reporting in with cardiac pain and cancer, most hospitals in Goa focus mainly on these two specialities. The state reports 70 cancer cases for every one lakh people— higher than the national average of 50. A survey by the Goa Medical College shows that Goan women face a bigger risk of breast cancer, almost 35 cases for every one lakh, which is higher than the four metros. The high incidence can be attributed to women in this high literacy state, marrying late and delay in bearing children, thus increasing the risk of breast cancer; while the high rate of colon cancer among men could be ascribed to the regular consumption of red meat and alcohol.
Even as cardiology and oncology facilities are still being developed, aesthetic dentistry and plastic surgery are flourishing, thanks to high volume of foreign tourists. Around 50 to 100 patients troop to Goa every month for plastic surgery due to medical tourism, say analysts. For instance, in Apollo Victor Hospital, of 186 medical tourism patients who came last year for cosmetic, orthopaedics and maxio-facial surgeries, over 70 per cent queued for cosmetic. Explaining the rationale behind the huge volume for cosmetic surgery, Biju Martins, CEO, Apollo Victor Hospital, says, "Cosmetic work is not covered in insurance and hence getting it done from a private doctor turns out to be expensive. That's why Westerners prefer to come to Goa, where we do it at half the cost."