CII cautions against unorganised healthcare providers in Kerala

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on November 24, 2017

Healing touch File photo of a foreign tourist being treated at an ayurveda hospital in Kochi. - VIPIN CHANDRAN

Report discusses ways to tackle competition and bolster health tourism sector

The Confederation of Indian Industry has cautioned against the mushrooming of unorganised healthcare providers in Kerala, which is hurting the State’s image in the health tourism sector.

There needs to be a mandatory accreditation and certification process to weed out unethical practitioners, a report – Kerala Health Tourism: Potential and Roadmap for Future – prepared by CII said.

Stiff competition

The industry body also warned of stiff competition to Kerala from neighbouring States as well as from countries such as Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand in the growing health tourism business.

‘World class treatment at a low cost’ has been the catch word for health tourism in Kerala. However, this cost advantage is quickly waning due to competition.

Quoting reports, CII said Sri Lanka is emerging as a major competitor to Kerala especially in the field of ayurveda due to the reduced value of Sri Lankan rupee which makes the treatment more cost effective there.

Besides, neighbouring states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are taking advantage of the tourist inflow on account of low costs, little to no waiting period and facilities offered by speciality hospitals there.

Foreign visitors

It is reported that 600 to 700 foreign patients visit Kerala every month, a majority of them for ayurvedic treatment. Though Kerala is 20 per cent cheaper than many other States in terms of connectivity, infrastructure and specialisation, the State lags behind medical tourism hubs such as Chennai and Hyderabad.

Kerala hospitals with modern multi-speciality services have not been able to project themselves to international clientele. The State government has also not been able to promote medical tourism successfully.

Though the Kerala Government has taken proactive steps to woo tourists with visa on arrival for citizens of select countries, the CII report found that all these schemes lack the promptness required to encourage tourist inflow. Lack of international accreditation such as JCI certifications is making health tourists to shy away from Kerala.

Cumbersome process

Getting a medical visa in the State is still a cumbersome process though there has been a liberal move to promote medical tourism. The task of patients visiting the immigration centres for visa approvals and renewals is affecting the industry.

Citing the regulatory bottlenecks for hospitals engaged in medical tourism, the report suggested the government to promote visa processing at venue and have helpdesks at the medical facility to speed up the process.

A consortium of hospitals could spearhead processes such as accreditation, international marketing, liaising and quality control.

Tie-ups suggested

The report also suggested the State government enter into tie-ups with individual countries to attract medical tourists from countries in East Africa, GCC, SAARC etc.

Special emphasis should also be given on language skills to attract more visitors from the African continent, Europe and West Asia.

Published on April 18, 2014

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