Kerala Health Minister moots separate Govt body to promote medical tourism

Kerala Health Minister moots separate Govt body to promote medical tourism

Kerala state minister of Health and Family Welfare, K. K. Shailaja, who was among the few world leaders invited to speak on the occasion of the United Nation’s Public Service Day in June honouring her efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in the Indian State, suggested a separate body under the state government to promote the medical value travel in the state.

The minister, who was speaking at a ‘Fireside chat’ on the inaugural day of the Ninth edition of the Kerala Health Tourism-2020 virtual conference on Friday (9th October), said that the subject of medical tourism should be dealt with collaborative efforts from the departments of industries, tourism and health as it involves various aspects related to these respective areas. 

“In my opinion, there should be a separate entity that can work in collaboration with these different departments to promote medical value travel to the state and we need effective discussions on this between the various stakeholders, including the private and public health services industry in the state,” she said while answering a question from Dr M I Sahadulla, the chair of the Healthcare Panel of Confederation of Indian Industries (Kerala Chapter), the organiser of KHT-2020, to whom in the government that the industry should approach for a support for promoting medical tourism in the state as it neither falls under the industry department nor in the priority focus of tourism ministry at present.  

Kerala, which recently won the UN Interagency Task Force award for its “outstanding contribution” towards preventing and controlling the spread of non-communicable diseases, mental health and the wider sustainable development goals related to it, has high potential for attracting medical value travellers, but receives only a minuscule portion of the country’s total volume in the absence of an organised promotional effort and due to other regulatory bottlenecks in the state.  

The Kerala Health Tourism 2020, month-long conference and medical exhibition,  will deliberate on the Importance of cultural competency in international patient care, infection control, hospital preparedness for pandemic and challenges In healthcare insurance and medical tourism marketing. Started on Friday, the event saw a couple of panel discussions involving industry leaders focusing on encouraging medical value travel to the State, which has several advantages in terms of professional skillsets, infrastructure and the traditional value propositions such as Ayurveda and rejuvenation therapies as well as attractions of the nature, on the first day. 

The State chief secretary Vishwas Mehta, while delivering the inaugural address, said that; “Out of the 10 million odd tourists visiting India in a year, Kerala has been able to attract only about 11 lakh and the size of these tourists visiting the State for health tourism is just about 20% and that too is predominantly for wellness tourism, because the state was mostly promoted for that.

So since the State is now capable of attracting medical tourism for modern treatment for illness along with the wellness therapies by skillsets, infrastructure , etc., it is time to think beyond the conventional methods to promote the State by leveraging all these advantages including the air connectivity.”

The concurrent medical equipment and PPE  exhibition has participation from leading hospitals, medical organisations, Government departments, insurance companies, foreign insurance agencies, central and state government departments, medical Journalists, International institutions for promotion of health tourism , etc.The exhibition provides an excellent opportunity for PPE manufactures and dealers to showcase their products and get dealership from Indian as well as overseas companies. The event will have participation from more than 12 countries, said the Organising secretary Dr Dipu Thomas Joy.