City tops in medical tourism

The Times of India | 2009-02-27

CHENNAI: Expert doctors, state-of-the-art facilities and low cost of treatment had brought in more than 4,700 medical tourists to Chennai last year, making it the most favoured city for medical treatment, chief immigration officer Avi Prakash Sinha has said.

Speaking at a symposium on promotion of medical tourism organised by the state government, Sinha said a majority of medical tourists to the city in 2008 were from Sri Lanka and Myanmar, while a substantial number of patients are from Tanzania, Oman, Fiji, Iraq and the UK. The city had just 566 foreign patients in 2005, which rose to 3,307 in 2007 and 4,734 last year. "Chennai has the largest number of medical tourists in the country. On an average, a dozen foreigners come to here for medical treatment every day. The country now offers special visa to patients and their attendees if the primary reason of visit is medical. This has attracted many patients," he said.

Officials from the department of tourism, immigration and health discussed the scope for medical tourism along with other stake holders like doctors, hospital and diagnostic centres managers.

M Kumaresan, who spearheads Meditour India, the organisation appointed by the state government for promotion of medical tourism, said that besides the facilities and expertise the city offers, the cost of treatement is also been comparatively low. "We compete not just with Singapore and Malaysia, but also with other Indian cities such as Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi. The packages we offer are more affordable than those in other cities," he said.

According to him, Chennai offers a wide range of specialities including neurology, ophthalmology and cardiology and has a good record of organ transplants.

Tourism secretary V Irai Anbu said the government is willing to extend support by providing facilities for patients and their attendees to visit tourist destinations of their choice when they came for their treatment. "Almost all hospitals have a special travel desk to help patients with their domestic tour plans. We are willing to provide all information to set up such facilities," he said.



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