Medical tourism is forex top spinner

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2018


Accounts for 70% of health services exports, finds survey

■ 60% of the earnings come from Bangladesh, Iraq, Pakistan and the Maldives

■ 14% from the US

■ 11% from the EU

Medical tourism has been the largest contributor to India’s total health services exports, accounting for 70 per cent of the total revenues of $890 million earned in 2015-16, according to the first comprehensive government survey on the sector.

Asian countries, led by Bangladesh, Iraq, Pakistan and the Maldives, accounted for more than 60 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings of health services.

India’s major trade partners, the US and the EU, accounted for 14 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively, according to the survey compiled by the Directorate-General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics under the Commerce Department.

“The personalised services and care that patients in India get is much cheaper than the services offered in developed countries and even in countries in the ASEAN, Middle East and the CIS states,” Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia noted in her comments.

“This, together with the support of the government in promoting India as a healthcare hub, research in healthcare and advances in information and communication technology have enhanced India’s export of health services,” Teaotia added.

Contract research was second-highest forex earner among health services, accounting for 27 per cent of export revenue. Clinical trials and telemedicine accounted for about 3 per cent of export earnings.

Orthopaedics, oncology, neurology and cardiology are the top four export revenue earners; strikingly, Ayurveda is a close fifth, much above other branches including urology, haematology, general medicine and nephrology.

The report is part of the Commerce Department’s efforts to develop a framework to collect statistics on services trade. The DGCI&S launched its pan-India survey on international trade in services in June 2016.

Along with information on medical and health value travel, the survey also captured information on telemedicine, clinical trials, contract research, distance health education and temporary overseas movement of personnel from the surveyed units.

The survey is likely to be undertaken on an annual basis.

Published on April 21, 2017

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