Medical tourism: The pilgrimage for health

Medical tourism: The pilgrimage for health

People, from time immemorial, have travelled the world for different purposes. They travelled for protecting themselves, finding new hunting grounds, to colonize for economic advantages, to have pleasure, to enjoy wonders of nature, to learn from others, and also as pilgrims going on pilgrimage. Now, there is a new kind of travel, which is ‘medical tourism’. One can perhaps call it as ‘pilgrimage for health’. Medical tourism is “travelling abroad to receive medical treatment”

In ancient Greece, people travelled to hot springs seeking health benefits of mineral rich water. Before Greeks, Samaria was visited by people from ancient Europe for health benefits of its health complexes. People from all over the world flocked India in ancient times to take advantage of world’s oldest system of medicine – Ayurveda and also yoga.

India is again on the map of health care, in the modern world. World class hospitals, well trained doctors and paramedical staff, and quality care at the cost 1/10th of western countries make India a hot medical tourism destination.

Why do people embark on medical tourism?

There are various factors which play a role in seeking medical tourism. According the KPMG India analysis, most of the people travel to another country because of availability of advanced technology. Getting high quality care is the second most common reason for travel. For example people from less developed countries visit more developed countries because of earlier said reasons.

Quick access to treatment is third most common reason for visiting another country for health care. In countries like the UK and other European countries, people have to wait to get treated or to get operated. People travel to countries like India where they have quick access to treatment. Low cost of care is another most common reason for travelling to other country seeking healthcare. For example, cost of cardiac bypass surgery in India is 1/10th of what it costs in the US.   

In addition to above said reasons, some people also combine travel pleasure with healthcare. This is done when the treatment is minor like dental care, cosmetic care, etc. There is one more advantage to medical tourism – the ill can keep his illness secret and he can avoid all the difficult situations that he has to face with his family and friends.

Most sought after destinations of medical tourism

About 7 million people travel for value healthcare each year across the world. The number is expected to rise owing to increasing global demand for healthcare services, aging population and rising birth rates. In addition, there is a shift in prevalence of disease from acute illnesses to chronic illnesses like diabetes, joint disease, etc. However, all the countries in the world are not equipped to handle this urgent requirement. Some countries are not in an economic position to pay the high cost of care, while other countries like Middle Eastern countries, many African countries and South American countries, don’t have the medical infrastructure although they can afford high quality care. Thus, developed and developing countries have become sought after destinations for medical tourism. In addition, people becoming more health conscious and ability to spend more have also contributed to rise in health tourism. Some of the most sought after medical tourism destinations are as follows:

  • USA

Medical tourism is on the rise and India, owing to its big pool of well trained doctors, well trained paramedical staff and high quality hospitals is among the most sought after destinations of medical tourism.

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