Government needs to simplify medical visa procedure: Experts

Kochi, Nov 2 : In order to attract more tourists coming for medical care, the government needs to make the medical visa application online and simpler, experts at a health summit said here Saturday.

"The process of medical tourism visa is very elaborate in our country. The person can get a visa only for 12 months and with only three entries. So, as long as the government makes the process clearer and facilitates online application, medical tourism cannot grow well in the country," said Harish Pillai, chief executive officer, Aster Medcity.

"The formalities regulating the visa need to be made simpler and especially the rules related to the extension of visa need a lot of rethinking," said Sanjay Cherian, vice president of Frontier Lifeline Hospital.

The experts were speaking at the fourth edition of the Kerala Health Tourism meet which ended Saturday.

Apart from highlighting the medical visa problem, the experts also spoke about the need for easing health insurance business in India.

"Currently only 15 percent of the population have medical insurance in the country. As the middle class rises in the country, there is an urgent need to increase the scope for health insurance, for which the government needs to ease the insurance business," said Hoosh Mires, operations director of Freedom Healthnet, an insurance company.

Though, the market for medical tourism is expected to grow annually at 30 percent to reach USD 1.55 billion by 2015, however, it is much lower compared to countries like Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan which receive more tourists and earn larger revenue from medical tourism.

"The need for India at present is to engage in elaborate marketing...," said Charles Stanford, senior director, LLH hospital Dubai.

Though India has good expertise, low cost and lesser waiting period, there is a need to develop the infrastructure, improve hygiene and standarisation of the accreditation process so that tourists' trust could be gained.

--IANS (Posted on 02-11-2013)

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