The state government and various leading hospitals are giving more thrust to this sector, and Kerala has already achieved an annual growth of 30-40 per cent in the inflow of patients from abroad. The number of patients who sought various treatments in Kerala, has increased to 15,000 in 2006.
According to a study by CII, the average spending of a medical tourist will be Rs 500,00. In order to augment the initiatives taken by leading private sector hospitals, the state government has declared 2007 as medical tourism year.
Philip Augustine, chairman, Kerala Health Tourism, said that by 2010, Kerala would enjoy at least 20 per cent market share of medical tourism in India, as the state was emerging as a major destination for health tourists across the globe.
Addressing a press conference here announcing Kerala Health Tourism Summit, 2007, he said the number of patients from the US, UK and other European nations had increased significantly during the last few years.
This was mainly because of the long wait needed for getting speciality treatment and the huge expenses for treatment in these countries. Most of the modern treatment facilities that can be availed in Kerala are cheaper by 40 -50 per cent, he said.
Patients from Russia and African countries, besides West Asia and Maldives, have also begun coming to Kerala recently, he said.
C Rajkrishnan said that there has been a tremendous increase in the number patients coming to Kerala for various dental treatment
especially for cosmetic surgery. Hungary is the leading player in dentistry and Kerala can adopt a suitable model based on the success of that country.
He also said the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals (NABH) would soon announce the standards for accrediting dental clinics so that India would be an attractive destination in dental treatment.
NABH had already accredited two hospitals in Kerala -- Malabar Institute of Medica Sciences, Kozhikode, and Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences in Thiruvananthapuram.
The government will announce a comprehensive national accreditation policy for accrediting various hospitals in the country soon.
The Kerala Health Tourism, along with the Confederation of Indian Industry and department of tourism, will be conducting the second Kerala Health Tourism Summit during March 23-26.
According to Navas Meeran, chairman, CII, Kerala state council, 800 delegates from India and abroad would attend the summit. Business visitors from UK, USA, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Muscat, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait have already confirmed their participation.
The four-day summit will be inaugurated by Ambika Soni, Union minister for tourism. Philip said the summit was aimed at promoting Kerala as one of the top 5 destinations for medical tourism.
There will be 70-80 stalls in three focus pavilions -- allopathy, dental and ayurveda, displaying the state-of-the-art healthcare infrastructure of the state. Besides, leading hospitals international health tour operators, airlines, insurance companies and allied service providers will also be participating in the summit.