Medical tourism biz in India hit by unrest in Kabul

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has taken a toll on one unlikely sufferer: Indian hospitals that depend on hundreds of medical vacationers from the war-torn nation.

India’s tourism ministry estimates that hospitals have suffered a 9-10% income loss up to now month alone due to the upheaval in Afghanistan.

Private hospitals, already seeing dwindling demand for elective surgical procedures and different such remedies due to the pandemic, obtained a second jolt with sufferers from Afghanistan, a major contributor to India’s medical tourism business, dwindling to a trickle.

“The income from medical worth journey within the final two years has already come down by 45%. With the continuing unrest in Afghanistan, there was an extra roughly 9-10% loss. The pandemic has hit the medical tourism sector like every other sector,” a tourism ministry official mentioned, requesting anonymity. Medical tourism income is now unlikely to achieve pre-covid ranges till the scenario in Afghanistan normalizes, and worldwide journey resumes, the official mentioned.

Taliban took over Afghanistan on 15 August, following a violent navy marketing campaign to oust the elected president and seize Kabul. Since then, no medical vacationers have visited India for remedy. Fortis Healthcare, one in every of India’s largest hospital chains that caters to worldwide sufferers, mentioned no new sufferers have come from Afghanistan since 15 August. “Political unrest has immediately impacted medical tourism. For Afghan nationals, India is a most well-liked healthcare vacation spot the place hospitals supply world-class high quality remedy at an affordable price. At least 8-9% of the whole medical vacationers coming to India contains Afghans,” mentioned Anil Vinayak, group chief working officer, Fortis Healthcare.

This has notably hit those that had already secured medical visas and have been set to come back to India for scheduled consultations and surgical procedures, he mentioned.

In the absence of air providers, round 2,500 individuals who would come to Fortis Hospitals from Afghanistan for remedy each month are ready for the scenario to stabilize. Most sufferers want remedy for cardiac, oncology and sophisticated neuro interventions. “Our worldwide enterprise income declined 9% over trailing month. Visa requests from Afghanistan have gone down by 75% over a month,” mentioned Vinayak.

The scenario at Max Healthcare is not any completely different. “Max Healthcare has been receiving Afghan sufferers for over 15 years now. Max Hospital, Saket, had a mean every day footfall of 50-60 Afghan sufferers. During covid, the quantity fell to roughly 20 per day, which had as soon as once more began rising after the top of the second covid wave in early June,” said Anas Wajid, senior director and chief sales and marketing officer, Max Healthcare. “Over 600 patients have been issued visa invitation letters and are waiting for visas and flights to resume travel to Max Hospitals. After the political unrest in Afghanistan, patient volumes have shrunk to 3-4 patients a day. This is because of the stoppage of flights from Kabul to Delhi as well as the stoppage of visas being issued by our embassy, which is now shut,” mentioned Wajid.

The medical tourism business was price $3 billion in 2015, based on the tourism ministry. The business was forecasted to achieve $9 billion by 2020, however revenues have dried up considerably due to the pandemic. Piyush Tiwari, director for business and advertising and marketing at India Tourism Development Corp. Ltd (ITDC), expects the sector to get better quickly. “As the nation is progressing quickly with vaccination, cultural and medical tourism is anticipated to see higher restoration in India,” he mentioned.

India is positioned tenth on the Medical Tourism Index for 2020-21, owing to affordability, accessibility, and high quality medical services. Tiwari mentioned the important thing differentiating issue supplied in India in medical tourism is the affordability of high-quality remedy. “There is a stark distinction in the price of widespread medical procedures in India compared to shut opponents within the phase. Additionally, India has a robust well being infrastructure, with many state-of-the-art healthcare services providing remedy throughout specialities,” mentioned Tiwari.

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