Kerala as Medical Tourism Hub

Medical tourism

There are more than 100 government certified Green and Olive leaf Ayurveda centers in Kerala

Medical tourism is a growing sector  in India. The Indian medical tourism market is expected to grow from its current size of $ 3 billion to $ 7 – 8 billion by 2020. The primary reason that attracts medical value travel to India is cost – effectiveness and treatment from accredited facilities at par with developed countries at much lower cost.

The medical tourism market Report: 2015 found that India was one of the lowest cost and highest quality of all medical tourism destinations, and it offers a wide variety of procedures at about one – tenth the cost of similar procedures in the US.

‘Kerala’, the mesmerizing land located in the south of India, enjoys geographical features that are unique in the world tourism map for its natural beauty and cultural heritage. The state is ideally suited for medical tourism because of its moderate weather throughout the year, advanced hospitals with world class facilities, renowned doctors specialized in major disciplines, trained para medical staff and technicians and international connectivity. While on one side Kerala boosts of the traditional medical systems like Ayurveda, Sidha, Naturopathy, Panchakarma, Kalari and others, on the other hand it also gives relevance to modern medicine with many accredited private healthcare institutions with state-of-the-art
facilities. Currently, it attracts only 4 – 5% of medical tourism but has the potential to increase its share to 10 – 12% of the overall market.

The state with the highest literacy rate in the country is also considered as the ‘nursing hub; for regions West of Europe. The average population per nurse in Kerala / India is 138 / 472.

Alternative medicine is increasingly becoming popular especially in German speaking areas of Europe. Ayurveda plays a leading role within a trend of deeply relaxing wellness therapies and Kerala possesses an unbroken tradition of Ayurveda that has surpassed many invasions
and intrusions both foreign and native. Unlike the other Indian states, the status of Ayurveda in Kerala is not that of an alternative but is main stream. There are more than
100 Government certified Green and Olive leaf Ayurveda centers. Hence we can see more and more foreign tourists, especially from developed countries throng the state to avail such services.

Kerala boasts of three well spread out international airports in Kochi, Trivandrum and Calicut with direct connectivity with all GCC countries and most Asian countries. In terms of medical infrastructure, the health system in the state fares better than the national average, resulting in the state recording among the lowest IMR and MMR in the country. Also the average population served per Government hospital bed Kerala / India is 918/1833.

Few roadblocks that we need to overcome:
⊲ Lack of insurance policy for this sector.
⊲ Low investments in health infrastructure.
⊲ Shortage of specialists in this field.
⊲ Strong competition from other countries – Singapore,Malaysia, Thailand and Phillipines.
⊲ Different pricing policy in hospitals.
⊲ Lack of coordination between various players in the industry – airlines, hotels and hospitals.

Though there will be some roadblocks on the way, it’s time for Kerala to leverage its tourism brand and secure a leading place in medical tourism.