VELLORE: Board any train going to the south of the Vindhyas, and you’ll find a sizable, motley crowd heading towards Vellore — and more specifically, the Christian Medical College and Hospital for cost-effective treatment. In fact, CMC and Vellore have often been synonymously used.
But, the CMC alone doesn’t make Vellore a hub of medical tourism. The district also boasts of the Sri Narayani Hospital and Research Institute, run by the Sri Narayani Peedam that built the Golden Temple, and the Apollo-KH Hospital at Melvisharam on the Vellore-Chennai highway, which attract patients not just from various states, but other countries as well. The CMC gets around 500-600 patients each month from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, African and the Gulf. While some medical tourists here say they are not alarmed by reports of the superbug, many are not even aware of the NDM-1 strain. They are confident of beating hospital-acquired infections by washing hands.
Local social activist Ruby Nakka appears unfazed at the bug threat and insists that it will not affect the thriving medical tourism industry in Vellore. At best, he adds, this could be a short-term setback. “Vellore will remain a top runner in medical tourism, since it offers world-class treatment and research facilities,” says Nakka.
Building an airport, good hotels and beach resorts for recuperation, and obtaining a joint commission international compliance certification to gain the confidence of foreign patients will boost Vellore’s medical tourism industry, he adds.