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Government measures to sustain medical tourism: comparison between India and Thailand
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Anita MedhekarAnita Medhekar
With the increasing cost of medical surgery, health insurance cost, long waiting period and unavailability of certain medical procedures in the developed and developing countries. Patients as medical tourists from all over the world are travelling to Thailand, India and Singapore amongst other countries in Asia for medical treatment. India and Thailand are not only an exotic and popular tourist destinations, but also have seen a boom in Medical Tourism in the 21st century. In 2009 globally, Thailand was ranked first and India second in providing state of the art and affordable medical treatment to overseas medical tourists (IMT 2009). A report by Asian Medical Tourism Analysis (2012) projected that the numbers of foreign patients as medical tourists visiting India and Thailand, grew at the rate of 30-40 per cent a year in 2010. In 2007, 450,000 thousand patients from foreign countries were treated in India, compared to Thailand’s 1200,000 and this number is growing (RNCOS 2010). The governments of both the countries have recognised the importance of development and export of health care service by medical tourism and are actively involved in promoting and providing supportive environment to the private health care providers in the medical tourism industry in particular. Development and growth of medical tourism has been a long-term government strategy in Thailand in cooperation with private hospitals to establish the country as the “Medical Hub of Asia”. This has been supported by the Ministries of Public Health and Commerce with the internationally accredited hospitals. Likewise, a report published by Confederation of Indian Industry & McKinsey, the Government of India since 2003 has promoted India to developed countries as a “Global Health Destination”, providing first world high-tech medical treatment and facilities at an affordable low cost. Indian Government in the 10th (2002-2007) and the 11th five year (2007-2012) plans clearly emphasised the importance of the growth and development of medical tourism to India (GOI 2003 and GOI 2008). This paper examines the measures taken by the governments of India and Thailand not only to promote and support tourism in general, but medical tourism industry in particular and to make medical tourism globally competitive and sustainable in the long-run.