Medical tourism earnings to enter growth figures

index.jpgSource: The Economic Times, Dec 05, 2016

NEW DELHI: The government will estimate for the first the income it earns from medical tourism and include it to calculate India’s growth figure, a move aimed at making the country’s services data and growth numbers comprehensive.

The data will also be used for improving policy for the sector. The government is seeking details of the number of people who come from other countries for treatment, main countries from where they come and the kind of medical treatment they undergo. As part of the survey, data is being collected on services being provided to foreigners or non-resident Indians (exports), services being availed from overseas hospitals (imports), temporary overseas movement of personnel, clinical consultations, telemedicine and, services of doctors, nurses and midwives in foreign countries.

“A survey of this kind is happening for the first time and we are surveying 300-350 hospitals that cater to foreign patients,” said an official aware of the development.

Although the Reserve Bank of India collects services data, there is a need for country-wise and product-wise data as services as a sector is heterogeneous in which the quality of estimates matter.

The Indian economy expanded 7.3 per cent in the quarter to September, faster than the 7.1 per cent growth reported for the prior three months, but below the 7.6 per cent increase recorded in the year-ago quarter.

“The survey was launched in June and its preliminary estimates are likely to come out early next year,” the official added.

Capturing health related data is important because India attracts patients mostly from Africa, CIS countries, Gulf and South Asian countries who come mainly for organ transplant and treatment of orthopaedic, cardiac and oncology problems.The cost of medical treatment in India is much cheaper as compared to Western Europe, North America and some South East Asian countries.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow in hospitals and diagnostic centres was $4.1 billion between April 2000 and September 2016, while medical and surgical appliances attracted foreign investment worth $1.4 billion over the period.

At the same time, the drugs and pharmaceutical sector attracted FDI worth $14.5 billion, becoming the sixth largest sector with highest FDI equity inflows. In the first six months of the current fiscal, the sector got FDI worth $4.3 billion.

According to a CII-Grant Thornton white paper, India’s medical tourism market is expected to more than double to around $8 billion by 2020.

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