J&K’s Health Investment Policy:

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A ticket to ‘dream destination’ of Medical Tourism

 

Nigam Gupta.

The National Health Policy 2002 clearly supports medical tourism and aims at encouraging the best healthcare services to people of distant origins. India is fast becoming one of the preferred healthcare destinations for foreigners as the advanced facilities and quality treatments by skilled professionals and doctors attracts a huge number of medical tourists to India, enabling India to nurture as a hub for the medical tourists every year.
In 2014, during his maiden speech in Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed a serious concern over education and tourism sector of J&K. He said that ‘Instead of Kashmiri Girls going outside the state for further studies; I want students from Rajasthan and other states to come and study in Kashmir’. And, probably ‘J&K State Healthcare Investment Policy’ is here to provide ample of all such opportunities as the state’s Health and Medical Education department has opened doors for probable investors and corporates in the field of Multi-Speciality Hospitals, Healthcare Educations and Industries, and Medical and Nursing Colleges etc. to come and invest in this state of natural beauties and bounties.

Since, India has been getting a good revenue turnover from its medical tourism from past few years. ‘The Jammu & Kashmir Healthcare Investment Policy’ must be brought with a similar vision to promote a like-wise cause and generating the employment opportunities. And, the other side of this scheme is to make world-class healthcare services and facilities affordable as well. As otherwise, the medical treatments in India are much cheaper when compared to Western Europe, North America and some Southeast Asian countries. As last year only, Tourism Minister of India declared the revenue earned from foreign exchange, an estimate of ₹1,35,193 crore in 2015, ₹1,54,146 crore in 2016 and ₹1,77,874 crore in 2017. And, per the NITI Aayog (The National Institute of Transforming India) the Medical Value Travel as a major source of foreign exchange earnings.

J&K can be the one of the best destinations for medical tourists as the total number of patients visiting India in the year 2017 was near 4.95 Lakh. And, this divine state of J&K with all its natural beauty and transcendent airs like heavens can definitely bring an additional boost to the medical tourism sector, if implemented properly.
Now, the question is, when we have sufficient tourists coming from distant origins at various hotels including Taj hotel in Kashmir then, we must also have chances of medical tourists as the Taj Medical Group receives near 500 inquiries a day from around the world and arranges packages for 20-40 Britons a month to have operations in India.

With this ‘Healthcare Investment Policy’ the stage is all set here in J&K and now, it is the responsibility of the government officials and the corporate medical sector to harmonize for winning the tickets and to win the ties together. Perhaps! Things can be achieved by giving equal importance to the Government sector too. And, efforts should be made in manner the nations like Cuba are achieving. Cuba has been a pioneer in medical tourism for almost four decades. It has hospitals for Cuban residents and others for foreigners and diplomats. Both kinds are run by its government. Cubans receive free healthcare for life while tourists have to pay for it. The Cuban government has developed medical tourism to generate income which is wrought back to benefit its citizens. The example of Cuba inspires us to use medical tourism for the benefit of people.

As per the Constitution of India, the responsibility for providing healthcare is on the state governments instead of the federal administration. To an extent, this has had an unfortunate effect on the investment level in the healthcare sector in J&K. While with the launch of NHM and allied schemes, the Government of India has launched Ayushman Bharat, world’s largest public-funded healthcare scheme, the need for private participation will continue to grow in importance, especially in rural India or in states like J&K. High-end diagnostic services require heavy capital investment which can be driven by the private sector if it has to cater to the greater proportion of the populace. Yet currently, the organised market’s contribution to Indian healthcare sector is a mere 6 percent. It is therefore clear that like any Indian state, J&K will have to take the large private players into increasing their play in the healthcare space. Such an endeavour makes J&K hopeful that more corporates will join hands in bringing global medical facilities to the state’s doorstep. It will assist the government and the people of the state to relieve its financial burdens that currently weigh down the economy and hurt its progress.

In any case, as per the track record of taking things to its logical conclusions’ otherwise still a dream and a big challenge in this state of Jammu and Kashmir, and executives seriously need to exert from their hearts, minds and souls, as such.

And, the only needed ingredients among our commanding corridors; are the requisite enthusiasm of bringing the things and willingness’ to do something, while creating the atmosphere per ease of doing business and slaying-down the traditional delaying tactics approaches and of course no matters, with an authority of right to strengthen the regulatory bodies for apt supervisions, there-of.

Anyways; by all said and done, the fit phrase here at this juncture of demonstrating real-time willingness’s is, “One can’t build a reputation on what one is going to do, but exactly on what one’s going to accomplish”.

Author is a healthcare service provider. He can be mailed at ecaresindia@gmail.com

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