Goa has missed the bus in medical tourism, even as hospitals in other states continued to receive hundreds of foreigners visiting them for treatment. Health minister Vishwajit Rane, who was speaking at the launch of a 250-bed multi-specialty hospital at Kadamba Plateau, Ella-Old Goa, on Sunday said, the state government will work hand-in-hand with the private sector to boost medical tourism and development of health sector. Over the years, successive governments have been taking about the state having a high potential in medical tourism, but no concerted effort has been made to promote the sector. Goa receives about 6-7 lakh foreign tourists annually, a majority of whom come for leisure and enjoyment, except over the years, some do coincide their vacation with dentists’ appointment, especially for implants.
A line-up of dental clinics in the Candolim-Calangute coastal belt bears testimony to this. “Some plan their holiday with an appointment with their dentist,” said Atish Fernandes, director, business development, First Class Holidays. “To promote medical tourism, we need to offer pre-surgery packages, wellness packages and develop medical infrastructure,” he said, even as president of Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), Savio Messias wondered why would foreigners come here for treatment, when some of the locals visit Mumbai or Bengaluru for the same. Messais said Goa’s infrastructure needed to be upgraded in a major way and should match international standards if the state wanted to develop the health sector.
Later, speaking to TOI, Rane said Goa needed a roadmap for developing medical tourism and that he planed to appoint a consultant for the purpose. “We need to have a plan that is achievable divided in a one-year, two-year and five-year period,” said Rane, adding that he definitely had plans to take medical tourism forward. Facilities for healthcare can be created in partnership with the private sector. Other facilities such as recuperating centers, and those required for senior citizens can be set-up, he said. The state government is working on various advanced programs and would like to partner with Healthway Hospitals, collectively owned and run by 52 Goan doctors, to make these a reality, said the health minister. – TOI