‘India should alter medical visa rules’

    By IANS,

    Kolkata : Apollo Hospitals Group chairman Prathap C. Reddy Wednesday said the central government should “alter” the parameters to enhance India’s medical tourism sector.

    He was rueing the “obstructionist” medical visa regulations that deter patients from seeking medical help in the country.

    Reddy stressed on the “credibility” that medical tourism would bring to the nation in addition to the foreign exchange. He described the reporting to the police station aspect of the visa as “disgraceful”.

    “We have been talking to the government of India … if only they could alter the restrictions on the medical visa. They pay three times more, they don’t mind paying that, but then when they come they have to go to the police station. So, no ordinary person would like to come to India,” Reddy said during the tenth anniversary celebrations of the Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals here.

    “Several governments like Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia are promoting medical tourism, not only to earn foreign exchange, but also to have dignity. I have told the government and our prime minister that by treating these patients I am trying to get you a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, and this is the credibility we can bring to the nation.”

    He pointed out the foreign patients who visit the country are only “10 percent of what we could have”.

    “Once they come to the country, they are sent to the police station … why should a person go to a police station when he wants to come to us … its disgraceful. It’s unfair to the country … the people … there are people from 124 countries who are visiting India today and their trust is very high and this is a big barrier.”

    “But unfortunately, the visa regime is so obstructionist … the rupee would probably come back to 55 if only the medical value of tourism is increased in the country.”