MUMBAI, JANUARY 08, 2005
INDIATIMES NEWS NETWORK
Health tourism may be the new buzz for the medical industry but the
real picture is far from perfect.
India may have developed state of the art medical facilities in the
corporate domain, but NRIs have questioned India's continued inefficiency
in sprucing the nation's primary healthcare infrastructure.
A symposium on "Healthcare: Opportunities for Investment and Tieups"
on day II of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas had speakers from most corporate
healthcare providers Escorts, Max Healthcare, Fortis, Manipal
Institute of Medical Science among others, who made glitzy presentations
about their latest forays to delegates here.
But NRI delegates who posed questions, constantly left the panelists
with little to answer, when they sought explanations on why the common
Indian still doesn't have access to a decent healthcare mechanism?
"Companies do need to look at the social perspective, but one
needs to first figure out whom to hold responsible. If banks pay money
to only those who can afford, corporate hospitals too follow the same
formula and offer healthcare to those who can afford," said Shivinder
Mohan Singh, joint managing director of Fortis Healthcare.
"Let them ask NRIs to invest in hospitals in the rural sector.
Let them get the basic government hospitals in order. Then we can look
at super speciality hospitals. It is insensitive to scream from our
rooftops that we offer best quality cardiac surgery to Americans at
one-eighth the US rates, but we are unable to save a cardiac patient
in our own towns," said Dr Meghna Desai from UK.
The Q&A session saw many NRI doctors who are attending the three-day
event, offering to work in India and Indian hospitals if the right work
environment is provided. "Let the government provide the environment,
they will always get our expertise at hand," said Dr KC Rajendran
from Tampa, Florida.
"While investing in the health sector doesn't require any prior
permissions, we will make sure that all stumbling blocks are removed
at the state government or local body level for NRIs to invest in hospitals
or speciality clinics," assured BP Sharma, joint secretary in the
ministry of health.
Not just NRIs, but multinational healthcare providers are also willing
to invest in India. Only the government needs to make it more investor-friendly.
"Do that, and then see, every Indian will have better and more
cost-effective access to healthcare within 5 years," commented
BR Shetty, CEO of the New Medical Centre Group in the UAE.