Dr Arun Oommen
MBBS, MS ( Gen Surgery), Mch( Neurosurgery),
MRCS Ed, MBA
Lakeshore Hospital and research centre
Kerala is fast becoming the favourite healthcare destination for foreigners seeking treatment abroad. The South Indian State is already well recognised for its much advanced hospital facilities with well-qualified doctors and paramedical staff. Modern and traditional medical treatments, moderate weather, ideal locations for a relaxing holiday and a high standard o hygiene make the state more attractive for a visitor.
Thanks to a multitude of ultramodern superspeciality hospitals and other healthcare facilities cropping up in different parts of Kerala, it is becoming a leading healthcare hub, capable of catering to any sort of health problems on earth. More over Kerala is blessed with highly experienced doctors and well-trained healthcare personnel in all ultramodern modalities of healthcare. Kerala is one of the largest producers and suppliers of staff nurses round the globe.
Thanks to the exponential growth of healthcare institutes in the state there is a noticeable increase in the number of Malayali doctors and other health personnel who were serving abroad returning to their homeland, which is really an encouraging sign. Along with all these, a mix of modern and alternative treatment systems, medical staff members who speak English fluently, affordable cost and low waiting time, definitely help Kerala to emerge as the perfect destination for health tourism in the world.
Standard of healthcare Kerala is one of a few regions in the developing world, which has achieved substantial progress in the realm of education and health . The demographic. morbidity, mortality, epidemiological and health transitions have been substantial and follow a pattern similar to many advanced countries. The state has become a model Indian state viewed in terms of low birth and death rates, infant and maternal mortality rates. high life expectancy at birth, favorable sex ratio and achievements in public health surveillance.
It is difficult to identify a single factor responsible for the demographic, epidemiological and health transitions in Kerala . Kerala has nurtured progressive policies, social reform movements that had succeeded in awakening a collective consciousness to principles of equity, equality, public policies that involve land reform, welfare schemes, public distribution system and investments in social sectors such as health and education. Apart from the socio-economic factors, the universally available public health system in Kerala has also contributed to this much acclaimed health system of the people.
Human development Index of Kerala is the highest among Indian states. It’s because it has the highest literacy rate, highest life expectancy and the lowest sex ratio(male:female).
Can it be a promising healthcare destination for overseas people?
Kerala has emerged as a healthcare destination because of its low cost medical procedures with world class and state-of-the-art treatment facilities. It’s in a position now to provide any advanced surgical and other medical treatments in a cost effective way. Many hospitals in Kerala have the best possible treatment facilities and with the availability of highly qualified and renowned doctors and well trained health personnel, the results produced are at par with developed nations. Globalisation and economic liberalisation have given a boost to the medical service sector in Kerala. Cosmetic surgery, bariatric surgery, knee cap replacements, brain and spine surgeries, liver transplants, and cancer treatments are some of the most sought out medical tourism procedures opted by foreigners.
As of now Kerala is capable of handling any sort of healthcare problems. The results produced are also at par with the best in the world. Moreover this world class treatment is done at only 15-20 per cent of the cost of treatment in the US, UK and other European countries which is remarkable.
For e.g, a liver transplant surgery which costs around $2,50,000 in the US can be done here at 1/6th of the cost there, producing similar results. Similarly a major brain tumour surgery which can cost around $50,000 in the West can be done here at just 1/10th of that cost with similar results if not better. A bone marrow transplant costs around $3,00,000 in the US but here it can be done at 1/10th of that cost. An open heart surgery which costs $50,000 can be done here at 1/10th of that. A knee replacement surgery costing $20,000 can be done at 1/4th of that cost. Medical tourism to Kerala is not just cost savings or the high standard of medical care facility, but even the waiting time for surgery treatment procedures in Kerala is much lower than in any other country.
There is an extensive network of medical care institutions practising homeopathy, Ayurveda , Unani, Acupuncture, Naturopathy, Holistic care and Yoga therapy. The indigenous medical systems particularly Ayurveda has been dominant and contributed significantly to public health and overall health transition in Kerala. Kerala is one of the very few areas in the world practising Ayurveda authentically.
Many foreigners are aware of the natural and herbal rejuvenation therapies of Ayurveda and are seeking treatment in large numbers. The Ayurveda resorts and Yoga centers are best in the world and pamper the tourists physically, mentally and emotionally. As we all know Kerala is a unique destination for all types of tourists visiting this beautiful state. Along with medical tourism you can also tour the wonders of Kerala , experience the beauty of backwaters and cruises, exotic wildlife ,multitude of hill stations, sea kissed beaches, lush green forests, archaeological monuments, ancient places of worship, shopping extravaganza and mouth-watering cuisine . Availability of a multitude of budget-friendly accommodation options near to the best hospitals for the family members accompanying the patients is an added advantage.
The state is well connected with different parts of the world. There are four international airports. There is a well connected rail , road and water transport system. It has a moderate weather throughout the year, the tropical climate of Kerala is best suited for any medical treatment and rejuvenation therapy. It also maintains high standard of hygiene.
The people of the state are well-versed in English, hence foreigners may not find any language problem. Also there are professional language translators in Arabic. French, German, Italian etc , whose services can be availed easily. Health insurance companies are beginning to play a major role in promoting Kerala’s healthcare. In an attempt to rein in exploding medical costs, a growing number of health insurance companies are offering their customers, both individuals and employers, an opportunity to get their healthcare in places like Kerala where treatment cost is much less but without compromising on quality and facilities. Those who have a high deductible plan which covers both treatment and transport cost may find medical tourism economically worthwhile, and the savings to them is considerable as well.
Kerala NRIs are spread all over the world and can function as goodwill ambassadors and advisors to the foreign patients. They have always played a pivotal role in the health tourism sector of their native land. Innumerable health group giants have already made their mark in the state by setting up numerous health care institutes thereby contributing to the overall improvement in the standards of healthcare services available in Kerala.
With only 3 per cent of India’s population, the tiny state provides two-thirds of the country’s palliative care services. The Kerala government has a palliative care policy (it is the only Indian state which has such a policy) and funding for community-based care programmes. Kerala has also extended the definition of palliative care to include the longterm chronically ill and even the mentally incapacitated. At present medical tourism in Kerala is growing at the rate of 30 per cent each year. With more and more hospitals getting accredited and recognized internationally Kerala is gearing up to become the undisputed health hub of India by 2020.
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