International Finance

Why foreigners are flocking to India for treatment

IFM_Indian Medical Tourism-image
India has the highest rate of medical tourism in cancer treatments and cosmetic surgeries.

India has the highest rate of medical tourism in cancer treatments and cosmetic surgeries.

Ten years ago technocrat Juan Fransisco Paladines started seeing double, which later turned out be a brain tumour. The doctors told him that his tumour had an unusual shape, which was impossible for them to completely destroy. Although after the course of radiation therapy, his symptoms went away.

In a report to the BBC, the 56-year-old said, “It was a very tough moment of my life. Fortunately, I have many friends and family that were my backbone.”

Due to radiation therapy, the tumour did not grow for the next four years. He forgot about the whole incident. However, life took a U-turn in 2019, when the double vision came back to bite him.

“I knew what it was… I started looking for alternatives to radiation therapy,” said the industrial engineer.

Recently, new cancer treatment has emerged, which is known as proton beam therapy. It is a form of radiation treatment that is used to get rid of malignant tumours.

The treatment uses a beam of high energy protons, which are smaller particles of atoms, instead of high energy X-rays.

Proton beams can easily pass through the human body and reach the tumour and destroy it effectively. Proton beam therapy can easily target sensitive areas of the body such as the brain, neck and spine.

Soon Paladines realised that this was the most effective treatment for his disease. However, it was not available in his home country — Chile — or any of the neighbouring countries.

He did extensive research to find hospitals from different countries, that could provide proton treatment. Since this treatment is very expensive, he finally came across the Centre Apollo Hospital in Chennai, India with a reasonable cost for treatment.

On the technology front, he said that the hospital had the state of the art technology, at a very affordable price compared to Western countries. The hospital also helped him find accommodation and arranged transport for his visit in November 2021.

This is one of the thousand stories where overseas patients travel to India just for cancer treatment, cosmetic surgeries such as liposuction (removal of body fat) and hair grafting.

According to India’s Ministry of Tourism, almost 183,000 tourists arrived in India for medical treatment in 2021.

India has the largest pool of clinicians in South Asia. The country is also uniquely positioned, thanks to its hospitality and rich culture, combined with modern and traditional therapy.

Various flight attendants who are looking for quick, non-invasive cosmetic procedures such as dermal filler or Botox come to India. The country gets patients from the US, Africa and Gulf regions.

The price of cosmetic surgeries done in the US, Europe and the Middle East is at least 50% higher compared to India.

However, in finding a trained doctor one should always research well about the doctor and his credentials before going for any surgery as there are untrained doctors out there wanting to make easy money.

One should also make sure that there are adequate arrangements for post-surgery complications.

Countries like Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia are too popular for medical tourism.

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