IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 19th March, 2016
Medical Tourism in India
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
- Medical tourism refers to “visit by overseas patients for medical treatment and relaxation”. Thus, it is an amalgamation of two distinct services: healthcare and tourism
- Soaring medical costs, high insurance premiums, increasing number of uninsured and under insured people in developed nations, long waiting period in the home country, availability of high quality health care services at affordable rate, and internet/communication channels in developing countries, cheaper air fares, and tourism aspects are the driving forces of the outbound medical tourism
2014:7.7 million foreign tourists came to India and its foreign exchange earnings from medical tourism is estimated to be around US $ 1.8 billion
Efforts taken by India
- Modernization and expansion of airports in the country, and improvement in the road connectivity and other infrastructure facilities
- Promotion of some (45) private hospitals as Centre of Excellence in its tourism brochure
- Set up a National Accreditation Board for hospitals
- Declared medical tourism as services export so that this sector avails tax concessions
- Participation by the State Governments:
- Kerala: Made concerted efforts to promote healthcare tourism, leveraging Ayurveda.
- Karantaka: Setting up Bangalore International Health City Corporation
- Initiatives by the Healthcare centres:
- Established world class infrastructure to attract international patients
- Set up comprehensive diagnostic centres, imaging centres, and world class blood banks
- Constantly upgrading technology and focussing on cost effective-customer oriented technology
- Tying up with travel/tour operators to offer healthcare tourism as a single service package
- Increasingly participating in international trade fairs/exhibitions to promote medical tourism
- Equipped with international standards
- Indian doctors and other medical staff have world class exposure and are fluent in English
Demand for natural healthcare system:
- Exotic tourist spots
- Host of alternative healing procedures
- Major source for foreign exchange
- Stimulates economic growth in other sectors including tourism, transport, pharmaceuticals, hotels, food suppliers to hospitals and restaurants
- Labour-intensive nature- Excellent generator of employment
- Promotes technological advances and improved medical infrastructure
- May cut down brain-drain
- Greater competition from private sector may force changes in public sector health systems
Challenges faced by Indian Medical Tourism
- Types of Visas:
M-visa: A medical visa, issued subject to some conditions
MX-visa: For attendants/ family members
Fast-track M/ MX visas: For SAARC countries, although Bangladesh/ Pakistan warrant additional requirements
Problems with the visa system:
- Waiting periods for the grant of visas are long
- Requirement of the physical presence of patients at embassies
- Restrictions on multiple-entry medical visas
- High transaction costs (come on tourist visas)
Solution: Streamlining the medical visa process and extending eTV (e-tourist visa) to medical tourists
- Poor Recording Mechanism
Due to high transaction costs medical tourists often come on tourist visas and thus, there happens a lack of mechanism in place, to capture the complete data on medical tourists
- Global Benchmark—
- National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH)accreditation now covers 99 medical, 28 AYUSH and 16 wellness and rejuvenation centres
- Not marketed sufficiently well but it matches the global standards well; recognised by the ISQua (International Society for Quality in Healthcare)
- Lack of a defined Perspective:
- Equating medical tourism with surgery and treatment in hospitals
- But Medical tourism encompasses within itself:
- Wellness or rejuvenation centres
- AYUSH centres- Ayurveda, Sidha, Unani, Yoga, Homeopathy
- Natural solutions to health- Acupuncture, Naturopathy, Aroma therapy, Herbal Oil massage, etc.
- Need for a Medical Tourism website- Segmented market with little formalisation
What usually happens?
- A patient turns up (mostly, on tourist visa) with no prior tie-up with a hospital
- Issues with transfer of money: patient carries cash (possible violation of the law)
- No advisory at the time of the grant of visa-
- Patient may not know the law on organ transplants, or that the non-near relationship clause between donor and recipient doesn’t apply to foreigners
- Without a near relationship, organ transplants to foreigners are prohibited
- Arrival on the Indian airport- (with or without a medical visa)
- There’s no special immigration facility or information counter
- Provision of a stretcher/ ambulance ends as soon as one exits the airport- falls prey to a tout/ middleman
- Absence of information:
- Middlemen/touts: Quotes a scaled-up figure for treatment/ operation
- Unaware of the fact that the hospital will get 30 per cent of it
- Hospitals: Aren’t allowed to receive payments in foreign exchange and so these touts converts foreign exchange to rupees at an unfavourable rate
- Tie-up with Hotels: another money generating avenue for the tout
Connecting the Dots:
- Medical tourism sector is expected to grow exponentially due to external as well as internal factors. Discuss.
General studies 1: Effects of globalization on Indian society.
General studies 3:
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
- Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
Is it the end of globalisation?
- China has just announced that last year, for the first time since it began opening up its economy to the world at the end of the 1970s, exports declined on an annual basis.
- And that is not all, in value terms, global trade declined in 2015.
The obvious question is why?
- Is the world experiencing a contraction in GDP?
- While global trade also fell in 2009, the explanation was obvious:
- The world was experiencing a sharp contraction in GDP at the time.
- Last year, however, the world economy grew by a respectable three per cent.
- Moreover, trade barriers have not risen significantly anywhere, and transport costs are falling, owing to the sharp decline in oil prices.
- So there is no contraction in GDP, but still the global trade is declining.
All time low Baltic Dry index:
- Interest to note here is, the so-called Baltic Dry Index, which measures the cost of chartering the large ships that carry most long-distance trade, has fallen to an all-time low.
- This indicates that markets do not expect a recovery, meaning that the data from 2015 could herald a new age of slowing trade.
- The obvious conclusion is that the once-irresistible forces of globalisation are losing steam.
The situation in China affirms the end is nearing:
- The situation in China is telling.
- In recent decades, as it became the world's leading trading economy, China transformed the global trading system.
- Now the values of both imports and exports have fallen, though the former has declined more, owing to the collapse of global commodity prices.
Commodity prices and trade trends:
- In fact, commodity prices are the key to understanding trade trends over the past few decades.
- When they were high, they drove increased trade to the point that the share of trade to GDP rose, fueling hype about the inevitable progress of globalisation.
- But in 2012, commodity prices began to fall, soon bringing trade down with them.
- Clearly, there is a direct link between the trends in trade and commodity prices.
- Given that this connection affects all manufactured goods that require raw material inputs, it should be no surprise that, as commodity prices have declined, so has global trade.
Commodity prices affect not only the value of trade but also volume of trade:
- One might argue that commodity prices concern only the value of trade, and that in recent decades, the growth of trade by volume also has exceeded that of real GDP growth.
- But commodity prices affect trade volumes as well, because higher commodity prices force industrial countries to increase the volume of their exports, in order to cover the costs of the same volume of raw material imports.
- And also because food, fuels, and raw materials comprise about a quarter of global trade, when their prices fluctuate - especially as strongly as they have in recent decades - aggregate trade figures are obviously affected.
- Given the massive drop in commodity prices lately, there is little need to seek any other explanation for the recent slowdown in trade.
- Most economies are more open today than they were a generation ago.
- But it is now becoming clear that the perception that globalisation is some overwhelming and inexorable force largely reflected the side effects of the last decade's commodity boom.
- If prices remain low, as seems likely, the next decade might well see global trade stagnate, as the trade pattern "rebalances" from emerging economies to the established industrial powers.
Connecting the dots:
- Make a cost benefit analysis of impact of globalisation on Indian economy and society.
- Is globalisation a boon or bane to India? Substantiate
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