Indian hospital stay a holiday in hell no more

The Age | 2007-11-09

Many foreigners are now visiting Indian hospitals to have surgery, writes Amrit Dhillon in Delhi.

THE term "medical tourism" may have to be revised as a new type of patient is admitted for treatment at India's top private hospitals.

Previously, visitors overwhelmingly came for cosmetic treatment or dental work.

They came either because such treatment was not covered by medical insurance or (if they were British), it was unavailable on the National Health Service.

Since treatment in India cost a fraction of what it would in Europe, the US or Britain, they usually combined the short hospital stay with a holiday in Goa or a trip to the Taj Mahal.

Now, a new trend has emerged in this nascent industry — very sick foreigners are coming for complex operations such as hip and knee replacements, bypass operations, spinal surgery, and even transplants.

"The 'tourist' bit in medical tourism has gone. Patients might have a break after their treatment to see India but they come because they want to be relieved of pain," said Anas Wajid, sales and marketing head at the opulent Artemis Health Institute at Gurgaon, near Delhi.

Irish construction worker Denis Foley, 52, certainly did not feel like a tourist as he emerged into the teeming chaos of people and honking vehicles outside Mumbai Airport earlier this month.

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