CHENNAI: With visiting ministers and diplomats often making requests for Indian doctors and surgeons to come to their countries and set up medical facilities, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday urged eye surgeons to go abroad and spread their expertise there.
“There are a lot of such requests, which are not in the usual frame of things. Ministers come and make such requests for kidney, heart and eye specialists. Our doctors should go and help set up the practice there and teach them, before returning or moving on to other assignments,” she said.
Reflecting on how there is always demand for quality healthcare in India and that this is a market that a lot of countries are hoping to borrow from, she said, “There is a lot of demand for projects to be exported out of India. Medical and health services top the list. Most African, European, South East Asian countries appreciate our expertise, especially in eyecare. They want India to come over with their manpower and expertise and they’re willing to give sovereign support.” Sitharaman was speaking at RETICON, organised by Dr Agarwal’s Group of Eye Hospitals.
Reports in 2013 have suggested that the need for doctors in India is still so large that there is only one physician for every 1,700 people, despite the WHO mandate of 1:1,100. In fact, the then government had conceded that we needed at least four lakh more doctors if this ratio is to be achieved by 2020, in line with which several new medical college seats have been granted licenses ever since.
Clarifying that she was merely looking at the issue from a humanitarian standpoint, Sitharaman said, “I’m sure the job is not done in India, so I’m not driving you out. I’m asking you to take your skill and expertise and spread it around. The whole universe needs it, so do what you can.”
Incidentally, hospitals like Dr Agarwal’s have opened up nearly 13 centres in countries across Africa and are constantly expanding.
Several surgeons from the city have also been invited and licensed to operate in smaller countries like Seychelles, Oman and other placed where native medical facilities aren’t quite advanced - but not because of a dearth of a funds.