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Promoting medical tourism - Indian government style

Posted Nov 18 2008 12:17am

There is now a lot of hype about how India is going to become the next medical destination, because of its ability to provide high quality medical care inexpensively. It is true that India is blessed with a large number of very competent medical professionals; and we do treat lots of infertile patients from all over the world in our IVF clinic.
One would expect that the Indian government would whole-heartedly support doctors who were trying to promote Indian medical tourism. However, the ground reality is very different ! For one thing, the Indian government treats doctors and hospitals unfairly. Though they earn foreign exchange for the country by "exporting medical services" , the government does not provide them any incentives for doing so. They get very step-motherly treatment ( as contrasted to five-star hotels and IT companies, which are pampered and coddled with tax-breaks and rebates). What happened to the "level playing-field" ?
To add insult to injury, rather than encourage tourism by providing medical visas expeditiously, Indian embassies give patients who want to come to India a very hard time ! I just got a call from a UK citizen who is now in Turkey and wants to come to India for her IVF treatment. The Turkey consular officer tells her it will take him 5 days to verify her application before he can issue her a visa. I called him up, requesting him to expedite the process; and he told me that after 9/11, Indian embassies have to be "extra-careful" about whom they issue visas too !
Here's another example of the government killing the goose which lays golden eggs !

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