PM’s surgery big boost to medical tourism

by Prabhjot Singh ,  The Tribune | 2009-01-26

Successful beating-heart surgery performed on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by doctors of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, yesterday will act as a catalyst for promoting medical tourism in India.

Unlike the political leaders and top bureaucrats, who go to the West for coronary bypass surgeries costing 10 or 15 times more than charges on such surgeries in India, the Prime Minister has set an example by reposing faith in the “competency of advanced Indian medical care to deliver first world treatment at the third world prices.”

There has been a long and unending list of top politicians, bureaucrats and CEOs who have been doling out huge amounts of precious foreign exchange to undergo coronary artery bypass or coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery abroad. Coronary artery surgeries are performed with either the heart stopped necessitating the usage of cardiopulmonary bypass or with the techniques available to perform CABG on a beating heart, popularly called “off-pump” surgery, the one performed on the Prime Minister.

It was in the beginning of 2001 that the off-pump surgery was introduced in India by a couple of special heart care or cardio-vascular care specialist hospitals.

According to a study by the McKinsey and the Confederation of Indian Industry conducted some years ago, medical tourism business is expected to touch $ 1 billion by 2012. The recent financial meltdown worldwide may make it quicker, say experts, holding that “the cost of surgery has been a major selling point in favour of India that offers not only cardio-vascular surgeons trained in the West, both in the US and the UK, but also get world class lodging facilities.

Escorts, Apollo, Fortis, Asia Heart Institute and Batras, for example, are some of the eminent chains of hospitals who have on their rolls world-class cardio-vascular surgeons supported by cardio-thoracic anaesthesiologists and other supporting paramedical staff.

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