The Confederate of Indian Industries (CII) Kerala chapter is planning to gear up its medical tourism promotions in Gulf countries in the coming years. For bringing maximum number of medical tourists to the state, practitioners of ayurveda and allopathy joined hands for a road show and exhibition in Oman in April and will be conducting such events in Saudi Arabia, UAE and a couple of African countries soon. “Oman is the biggest market for medical tourism among Gulf countries with around 90 percent of the total of one lakh medical visas stamped in the country for 2017-18 having been to India. Of this, almost 60% of them come to Kerala,” said Dr S Sajikumar, chairman, CII Kerala and chief physician at Dhathri Ayurveda.

The delegation sent by CII Kerala to Oman, consisting of doctors and marketing officials from 13 hospitals, conducted an outpatient service as part of the roadshow and exhibition in Muscat. “The response was impressive and we had many walk-in patients coming for consultation. We even did a follow-up of the patients who had returned to Oman after the treatments here. The new patients were given advices on treatments and those who required surgery were suggested to either come to Kerala for the same, or arrange for it in their nearby hospitals,” said Dr Bipin Theruvil, who headed the team from Lakeshore Hospital in the delegation. According to the doctor, there are at least 10-15 patients from Oman visiting the hospital every day.

CII is considering the development of a sustainable medical tourism by focusing on the growing markets of west-Asian countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE shortly, and African countries like South Africa and Nigeria immediately after. “Medical tourists from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have complaints like joint pains, gastric troubles or dermatological issues unlike western ones who look for wellness therapies majorly,” Sajikumar said. However, evidence-based reports are necessary for channeling more tourists to the wellness treatments, which includes a growing market for depression and related mental disorders. – TOI

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