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Hospitals in India woo foreign patients

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.328.7452.1338 (Published 03 June 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1338
  1. Ganapati Mudur
  1. New Delhi

    Having endured intractable pain caused by osteoarthritis of the hip for two years, a 44 year old woman from Norwich had two options—wait for her turn in the NHS or seek treatment in a private hospital.

    She took a 10 hour flight to India and checked into Apollo Hospital in the southern Indian city of Chennai. There, last Saturday, an orthopaedic surgeon performed a Birmingham hip resurfacing procedure on her. She expects to be home in three weeks—but not before a visit to a traditional Indian herbal medicine centre, arranged by the hospital.

    The British woman is among a growing number of foreigners turning to private tertiary care hospitals in India for medical treatment, which is leading to health tourism. Large hospitals in Mumbai, Chennai, and New Delhi have long been receiving patients from neighbouring South Asian and Gulf countries. Now they are trying to attract patients from Africa, Europe, and North America, marketing themselves as centres capable of delivering world class medical services at low cost.

    “Patients from the UK and North America make up a little more than a trickle right now, but there is big potential for growth,” said Mr Anil Maini, head of healthcare business marketing at the Escorts …

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