The first-ever international conference and exhibition on health tourism, showcasing the State as a premier healthcare destination, will be held in the city from April 19-20. The two-day meet - Tamil Nadu Health Tourism 2013 - organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), will highlight the emerging trends, opportunities and challenges in the health tourism sector in the country and the State.
“At present, Tamil Nadu is the third largest, after New Delhi and Mumbai, health tourism destination in the country,” said Dr Chandrakumar, convener of the meet and chairman of Kauvery Hospital .
“The primary objective in holding the conference is to strategize how to position the state as the No 1 player.”
Stating that the conference was being held with the active support and cooperation of the State government, Chandrakumar pointed out that the health tourism sector had made rapid strides, what with the finest qualified and experienced specialists, latest equipment and state-of-the-art infrastructure available in corporate hospitals across the country.
“Over 60,000 cardiac surgeries are done every year at par with international standards,” he said. “Last year, the revenue earned through foreign patients was around $2.5 billion.”
Most importantly, the major advantage of the medical tourism industry in India was its cost-effectiveness - one-tenth of the rates in the West - and competency, coupled with the attractions of tourism. And, Tamil Nadu was a pioneer in providing the best healthcare.
“Today, medical tourism in the country is synonymous with Chennai, Vellore, Madurai and Coimbatore,” Chandrakumar pointed out.
Visitors seeking treatment in the State would get more for only a fraction of what it would cost back home, leaving them with extra funds to spend on sight-seeing, he said.
All stakeholders - major hospitals, health insurance companies, policy makers, tourism promotion boards, hotels and resorts, health travel and tour operators - would put up pavilions at the venue - Chennai Trade Centre at Nandambakkam - showcasing their areas of expertise, services and products. “The State health ministry will also have its own pavilion,” he added.
More than 30 speakers, including ministers, diplomats, officials and medical professionals would be addressing the various sessions that would debate several issues, including best medical practices, enhancing competence and growth and challenges faced by the sector.
A major challenge of medical tourism related to insurance.
“At present, insurance is available only for specific segments,” said Dr S Prakash, co-convener and executive director, Star Health and Allied Insurance.
“If there is financial cover, then there will be more patients’ traffic and more traffic means more facilities in our hospitals,” he pointed out.