With patients from abroad and various parts of the country opting for treatment in the city, Nagpur is gradually transforming into a medical tourism hub. Having qualified doctors in almost all major specialties and affordable cost of treatment, the city has emerged as a medical tourism destination for patients mainly from Africa and Middle East and some from the US and Europe.
It has been observed that NRI patients, having relatives in the city, come to Nagpur for holidays and seek medical interventions which are very expensive in the western world. The city has specialists in urosurgery, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, bariatric surgery and gynecology, who follow all the rules of bringing in foreign patients through consulates of respective countries. They hire professional agencies to take care of legal procedures. At present there are about four major agencies.
Hospitals attracting the major chunk of foreign patients include Wockhardt Hospital, Care Hospital, Meditrina Institute of Medical Sciences, Neuron, Orange City Hospital and Research Institute. But majority of medical tourism patients come to super speciality hospitals run by individual doctors.
City-based senior urologist Dr Narendra Mohta who has been treating foreign patients for the last 12 years beginning with people from US and Europe, offers them ten types of surgeries related to infertility, cancers (prostate), penial implants, vasectomy reversal, erectile dysfunction, chemotherapy, urinary incontinence, varicolelectomy and radical prostatectomy.
He said Nagpur is providing treatment to foreign patients at extremely competitive rates, sometimes at less than one fifth the cost in their respective countries as well as much lesser than that in other metros.
Talking about services, Mohta said, “We only operate on patients and ensure their acquaintances inform police on the matter. But we also have to provide them with a local telephone number and get their money converted besides submitting a letter to the consulate informing the number of days a patient would be staying at the hospital for the visa.”
Bariatric surgeon Ahsan Badar who has been doing weight loss surgeries, band laparascopic sleeve, gastric bypass, hernia repair, gall bladder and laparascopic hysterectomy, gets his patients from the US, the UK, South Africa, Canada, Nigeria and Gulf region. “The cost here is almost one fourth to one fifth. We get the patients through proper medical tourism procedures,” he said.
Plastic surgeon Sudhanshu Kothe, who has been treating a lot of NRI patients over the last decade, said, “NRIs seeking treatment here are mainly relatives of Nagpurians. They plan the surgeries during the holidays as what takes Rs4-5 lakh in their countries is done for just Rs50-80,000 here
Will Mihan’s new hospital meet ‘health city’ fate?
On October 6, Mihan-SEZ approved a proposal to allot 153 acres of land for a 1000-bed hospital under the Indo-UK Institute of Health ( IUIH) project. Aimed at boosting medical tourism, it will have a five-star hotel like facility. However, the services offered here will be counted as exports and thus even an Indian patient will have to pay in foreign currencies, a source told TOI.
Earlier, there was a plan to establish a ‘health city’ in Mihan-SEZ wherein Indian or foreign companies could set up hospitals exclusively for treating foreign patients. About 75 acres of land was earmarked for it. The project could not take off due to the condition that the hospital can only treat foreign patients and the fees would be charged in foreign currencies. This condition was laid as the health city was part of the SEZ.
Mihan then scrapped the health city project and diverted the land for other projects.
In 2008, John Hopkins Hospitals from US had announced to set up a 500-bed hospital but it backed out in 2009 due to recession. Since then no company offered to come to the health city until the beginning of this year when IUIH project was envisaged. This institute is an independent identity and not a part of health city.