India is fast emerging as the medical tourism hub of the world: Dr Jitendra Singh – ET HealthWorld


New Delhi: More than 10 lakh medical visas were issued to foreigners between 2019 and 2022 and the country is fast emerging as the medical tourism hub of the world, said Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State for Prime Minister’s Office, Minister of State for the Ministry of Science and Technology and Minister of State for Ministry of Earth Science, Government of India. He noted that this number is quite significant as there was an almost complete ban on international travel during the pandemic.

Addressing the august gathering at The Economic Times Healthcare Leaders’ Summit 2022, Dr Singh informed that India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become one of the world’s most cost-effective healthcare destinations, with the latest technology tools deployed, across care delivery. He also pointed out that India has almost 600 globally and nationally accredited hospitals that provide world-class treatment in a cost-effective manner.

“Healthcare sector in India is expected to grow to reach a size of $50 billion by 2025, while the global medical tourism market is estimated to be worth about $72 billion. India’s share in medical tourism is expected to be around 10 billion dollars by 2023. Moreover, the country is the world’s largest supplier of generic drugs” he added.

Dwelling on the topic of the summit, ‘Building a Cohesive Healthcare Ecosystem in India through Proactive Government Initiatives’, Dr Singh emphasised that the intention and policies of the government are in perfect alignment for creating affordable healthcare for all. He pointed out that only last month, while inaugurating health facilities in Gujarat, Prime Minister Modi said, “If the heart and intention of the government are not filled with concern for the people’s problems, then the creation of suitable health infrastructure is not possible.”

Commenting on the government’s efforts in addressing the most pressing healthcare challenges of the current generation and being future-ready, he said, massive efforts are on in building a robust life sciences ecosystem through science and research, which will in turn reduce health inequalities and build a clear road map on the continuing successes of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. He further informed that the action plan laid out by the government to support healthcare stakeholders to create a vibrant healthcare ecosystem in the country is happening through funding, incentives, government and industry-academia partnership and incubation.

Dr Singh pointed out that the whole world recognised India’s leadership role during COVID-19, as it achieved the rare feat of delivering over 220 crore vaccinations through a fully digital platform – COWIN and the process continues. Underlining the importance of vaccines as one of the most cost-effective health interventions for combating infections, the Minister pointed out that during the pandemic, India played a crucial role in the rapid development and distribution of vaccines globally. Going forward, the evolving mechanisms for supporting end-to-end development and testing pipeline for vaccines is by strengthening engagement between industry, academia and government, he added.

Elucidating on the efforts by the government in the field of start-ups, he informed India today has more than 80,000 start-ups from 400 odd start-ups in 2014. He said Prime Minister’s special focus on science, technology and innovation has fired the imagination of the youth in the country to innovate and solve problems with new ideas. Start-ups are fast emerging in the fields like IT, agriculture, aviation, education, energy, health and space sectors.

Dr Singh pointed out that at present there are over 4,000 health tech start-ups in India spanning from platforms helping to monitor health conditions, apps using AI to detect illnesses and diseases, platforms connecting patients with doctors, and much more and hoped that this ecosystem will grow further and become the leading sector in the world.

Concluding his address, Dr Singh said “One can’t visualise India @2047 through the prism of 2022.” He added Modi’s eight years as Prime Minister gave India a vision for 2047 and laid the roadmap for the next 25 years of Amrit Kal which would witness the ascent of India as a front-rank nation in the world in terms of the best healthcare system.

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