India the preferred ‘heath tourism’ destination among Nigerians


IN RECENT times, it has become a norm for more and more affluent Nigerians, top government functionaries, VIPs, celebrities, even in some cases commoners to go for medical checkups and treatments in India.
This development, according to checks, has placed India above the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as other top medical capitals of the world like Germany, in terms of quality healthcare. This has also made India become a hub for medical tourists seeking quality healthcare at affordable cost.
Unlike those days when the who’s who in Nigeria go for high quality medical care in the US, UK, Germany or Switzerland, the reverse now seems to be the case in favour of India.

According to what gathered, Nigerian VIPs enjoy world class medical services such as joint replacement (knee/hip), cardiac surgery, dental surgery and cosmetic surgery. However, virtually every type of healthcare, including psychiatry, alternative treatments, convalescent care and even burial services are available in India.
It has also been realised by Nigerians who can afford to seek medical treatment abroad, that India offers them cheaper and more qualitative treatment. For instance, the cost of surgery can be one-tenth of what is in the United States or Western Europe, and sometimes even less.
A heart-valve replacement that would cost $200,000 or more in the US, for example, goes for $10,000 in India — and that includes roundtrip airfare and a brief vacation package.
Similarly, a metal-free dental bridge, worth $5,500 in the US, costs $500 in India. Cosmetic surgery savings are even greater: A full facelift that would cost $20,000 in the US cost about $1,250 in India.
The most popular treatments sought in India by Nigerian medical tourists are alternative medicine, bone-marrow transplant, cardiac bypass surgery, eye surgery and orthopedic surgery. India is known in particular for heart surgery, hip resurfacing and other areas of advanced medicine.
To this end, the government of India has introduced a ‘medical visa’ for foreigners who come to India for medical treatment and are willing to be there for extended period. The “medical visa” would be admissible to all foreigners seeking medicare in recognized specialty hospitals or treatment centres. The initial period of such a visa will be one year or for the period of treatment, whichever is less.
This arrangement, to many Nigerians, is less cumbersome compared to the stress they will go through before they get visas to countries like US, UK or even Switzerland.
Data made available to revealed that the Indian healthcare industry is growing at a rapid pace, and is expected to become a US$280 billion industry by 2020. The Indian healthcare market was estimated at US$35 billion in 2007, and is expected to reach over US$70 billion by 2012, and US$145 billion by 2017. India has approximately 600,000 allopathic doctors registered to practise medicine.
India licenses 18,000 new doctors a year, which is arguably the highest number anywhere in the world where medical healthcare is given at a cheap rate. Indians offers world-class medical facilities in world-class hospitals, and the doctors are comparable with their counterparts in western countries. They definitely have an advantage over others, as apart from the cost factor, many foreign nationals are used to getting treated by Indian nationals abroad. Indian medical professionals abroad are synonymous with high-quality care.
The most prominent of these hospitals is the Apollo group of hospitals, which boasts over 8500 beds across 50 institutions in India and overseas. It reportedly has 16 million patients from 55 countries.
Medical services Nigerians go for at the hospital include Cardiology & Cardiothoracic Surgery, Orthopedic & Joint Replacement Surgery, Spine Surgery, Oncology, Medical & Surgical Gastroenterology, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Nephrology & Urology, Critical Care Medicine, CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery, Birmingham Hip Replacement Surgery, Cosmetic surgery, Bariatric surgery, Liver Transplants, Infertility Management, Hand and Micro Surgery, Bone Marrow Transplants.
In recent times, several Nigerians with the milk of kindness in their veins have sponsored many helpless fellow countrymen to India for surgery and other medical attention.
Little wonder funds solicited for are always in the range of N3 million to N5 million.