On the settlement day of the Doklam standoff between India and China, a Chinese tabloid – ‘Global Times’ published an article describing how India is now a growing healthcare destination for Chinese patients.

The newspaper cited experience of Hua Li (pseudonym), a patent who went to India for treatment of Hepatitis C. “In New Delhi, Hua was taken to one of India’s best liver doctors in a private hospital and prescribed medication not yet available in China.” Interestingly, the Chinese woman’s first foreign visit was to India.

“The professionalism and cleanliness of India’s private hospital is impressive. It’s more like a hotel, unlike Chinese hospitals which are so crowded,” the Global times quoted Hua. Large number of not so-wealthy Chinese are following Hua’s path mainly through group arranged visits.

India combines two virtues in healthcare- availability of affordable medicines and quality medical practitioners. The country is fast growing health care destination assisted by government policies, patent laws and a vibrant health care services industry. Though the US has the best health care system, nearly 40 per cent of the generic drugs sold in the US are from India and a sizable number of US doctors are also of Indian origin.

The Global Times quoted Times of India estimate about the arrival of foreigners to India for medical treatment. An estimated 66,254 foreigners arrived in 2014, which grew to 122,121 in 2015 and 177,972 in 2016.  Chinse are a considerable number among these; despite some of India’s public sector managed hospitals are creating negative news abroad.

“Glivec, a leukemia drug produced by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, for example, costs 23,500 yuan ($3,783) each month in China. Its Indian generic version Veenat, a drug produced by India’s Natco Pharma which claims to have the same active ingredient and effects as Glivec, costs as little as just 200 yuan each month.” – the newspaper calculates citing the Glivec case.

The newspaper also quotes other sources for showing India’s advantage in the field. “According to the Medical Tourism Market Report 2015, India was “one of the lowest cost and highest quality of all medical tourism destinations; it offers wide variety of procedures at about one-tenth the cost of similar procedures in the United States.”

The medical tourism industry of India is growing at 22-25% at present and is estimated to create $6 bn revenue from the current $3 bn according to the Business Standard. Behind this growth, credit should also go to the country’s private hospitals like Fortis, Apollo Hospitals, Narayana Hridayalaya and several others, who combined affordability and quality to patients from neighboring countries including Pakistan and Iran.


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