African Medical Tourism In India – Will It Ever Be the Same Again?
Medical tourism refers to travelling from one country to another one for the purpose of getting better healthcare and medical treatment. People from underdeveloped and developing countries travel to more developed countries to acquire relatively cheaper and more advanced healthcare. Countries like India, South Korea, Bulgaria, Singapore, and Panama have advanced infrastructures of healthcare and offer medical treatment at relatively lesser costs than other developed countries, thus attracting a huge number of medical tourists every year.
India tops the list of countries when it comes to medical tourism. In the last three decades, India has seen a remarkable increase in the sector of medical tourism, making itself a premier and highly affordable healthcare destination for people across the globe.
India – A Medical Tourist Attraction For Africans:
Most of the African countries lack even a basic healthcare system, medical staff and professionals, and adequate infrastructure. This makes it very difficult for the people of these countries to seek medical treatment in their own countries especially for diseases of liver, heart, and ailments such as cancer and kidney failure. The revenue generated from medical tourism in India is more than $3 Billion and the contribution of African countries alone in it, is about 30%.
According to the Global Health Workforce Alliance, sub-Saharan Africa faced a tremendous shortage of basic healthcare facilities in the country. This report came out in 2015, explaining the reason behind Africans choosing India for medical treatment.
- The biggest reason why Africans choose to get treatment in India is the easy and convenient way to obtain a Visa. The visa procedure for countries like the US and the UK is no less than a nightmare for African people.
- English-speaking Africans find it very convenient to get treatment in India as English is widely spoken in India.
- The Indian government is also playing a remarkable role by giving incentives to medical tourists from across the globe by offering very attractive tourism packages.
- The cost of treatment in India is much cheaper than in western countries. For instance, the kidney transplant procedure in the US costs about $300,000 while the same procedure costs just about $13,000 in India.
India’s Battle Against COVID-19:
India is the second-most populous country in the world with a giant population of 1.37 billion. When the Covid-19 pandemic emerged, the world was expecting a horrible wave of disease and death in India, but it was surprising how they dealt with the first wave of the pandemic. India went for the suppression strategy, instead of the mitigation strategy adopted by the Western World.
- India announced a three weeks long complete Lockdown on 24th March 2020 which kept an initial check on the community transmission of the virus.
- India timely suspended international flights and canceled all the mass religious and cultural gatherings in the country.
- India was one of the first countries to use convalescent plasma therapy to treat patients with severe symptoms.
- After vigorous research, two Pharma Companies named The Bharat Biotech and The Serum Institute of India were able to make their own vaccines against Covid-19 and mass vaccination started in India months before than in other South Asian Countries.
Although the second wave in India that touched its peak in April 2021 was much more severe due to the Delta Variant of Covid-19, India still managed to carry out mass vaccinations thus coming out of the deadly second wave.
What To Expect In Future:
The pandemic has put a lot of indigenous pressure on the Indian healthcare system. However, an appropriate set of measures taken by the Indian Government is helping the country gradually step out of the crisis. Now that the second wave of the pandemic is stepping down in India, we can expect the situation to improve a lot more during the coming months. Vaccination is speeding up and almost 20% of the whole Indian population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine up to now. Chances are bright that once the pandemic is in control, India will again be a medical tourism destination for Africans due to the ease and quality it offers.