Maharashtra to maintain medical tourism database

Foreign nationals coming to Maharashtra for medical assistance will soon get a verified list of hospitals and doctors they can turn to without worrying about being harassed or duped.

The initiative is a part of the state tourism department’s plan to boost medical tourism in the state. The Union government’s department of tourism recently announced the formation of a National Medical and Wellness Tourism Board which will verify all medical tourist spots and ensure ease of medical e-visa facility.

Valsa Nair, principal secretary of department of tourism and culture, said, “We plan to create a comprehensive database related to medical tourism panning the entire state. This would include the centres for treatment and affiliated doctors. The database would also include details of various kinds of treatments and locations where they are available in the state. Verification of the centres would ensure foreign tourists coming here for medical purposes are not harassed or cheated.”

The guidelines will be formulated and the database would be uploaded on the tourism department’s website in the next three to six months.

The Union ministry of tourism had recently announced the setting up of a board to provide dedicated institutional framework to take forward the cause of promotion of medical tourism, wellness tourism and yoga, Ayurveda tourism and any other form of Indian system of medicine covered by Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH). The ministry stated in a release that this board will work as an umbrella organization that governs medical tourism and also aid in the promotion of the same “in an organized manner”.

The tourism department also announced electronic visas for medical tourists or patients seeking treatment in the country , which should give a boost to the sector.

The medical and wellness board will have stakeholders from all sectors, including representatives from branches of AYUSH, medical and tourism department representatives.

“Initially, taking prolonged treatment was not possible for foreign patients because of the short duration of visa.Now the e-medical visa will definitely help, especially if the benefit can be extended for those with chronic ailments. The government should include medical professionals in the board formed for medical tourism. Also, they should keep in loop the embassies and consulates concerned not only for issuing visas, but also to promote medical tourism in their countries,” said Parag Sancheti, professor and chairman of Sancheti Institute for Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation.

Cancer surgeon Dhananjay Kelkar, medical director of Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital, said, “We must treat these patients as our guests and facilitate their visa and insurance issues. Taking second opinion should be made compulsory to ensure people are not cheated. There is also a need for providing language translation services for understanding their food habits and culture better.”

App for safety of tourists

Valsa Nair, principal secretary of Maharashtra Tourism, said the state will come out with a safety handbook for tourists in the form of a mobile app in the next three to six months. A GPS-based `Maha-explorer’ will also be created for tourists. The state is also looking at setting up a tourist police force to ensure safety of tourists



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