India, which has remained a hot spot for medical tourism for over a decade, could once again see a surge in the inflow of foreign patients seeking medical treatment in the country as restrictions on travel are lifted with the Covid-19 pandemic receding.
Official data revealed that in 2018, of the total foreign tourist inflow from West Asia, 24.2 per cent came for medical purposes. This was followed by Africa with 14.6 per cent.
While the Covid-19 pandemic dealt a blow to medical tourism, experts engaged in the healthcare sector said that there could be a surge next year. India, where cost of treatment is typically lower by at least 30 per cent, has been receiving a large number of patients from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan and Maldives among other countries.
“While even during the pandemic some foreigners have come in for treatment, the numbers were not very significant but in 2022 the numbers could rise, provided the Covid-19 situation remains in control,” an insider told India Narrative.
India’s medical tourism sector, estimated at $7-8 billion, has been steadily growing until the Covid-19 pandemic. Most patients head southward for treatment, Chennai being the most popular destination.
A blog posted by Invest India said patients with problems of the eye, heart and kidney have come into the country for treatment. Besides, other medical attention related to organ transplantation, orthopaedics, and cancer has also become common.