The Indian government is going all out to allow e-visas for patients who wish to come to India for long-duration treatment in accredited health centres here.
This move, which is being seen as a boost to India’s medical tourism, has reportedly been given a go-ahead by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), spurred by the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
It is expected that an announcement to this effect will be made after the current session of the Parliament concludes. Following this move, citizens from close to 150 countries would be eligible for medical visas, which need to be applied for online. Scanned copies of patients’ medical prescriptions given by government-certified hospitals would be needed to be sent along with the online applications. Biometric data of the patients would be recorded in India on their arrival.
Upon arrival, the visitor would be provided a short-term medical visa, valid for 30 days after the arrival date. It could be extended for up to one year if an application was submitted with a medical certificate supported by an advice attested by an acclaimed hospital in India. For extensions exceeding one year, MHA’s approval would be required.
As of now, patients seeking medical treatment in India have to apply for online appointments at Indian Consulates/High Commissions, which take a long time to be processed. Apart from the waiting period, the process mandates the patient to be present in person at the Indian Mission for an interview and s/he also needs to submit an Indian hospital’s affiliation certificate stating that it is willing to treat him/her.
One of Niti Aayog’s seven ‘boosters’ is to see to it that India witnesses a growth of 10 percent in medical tourism. It cites a report by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), an umbrella organisation for Indian industrial houses, and Grant Thornton, a global consulting firm, which predicts growth of medical tourism in India to $8 billion, up from about $3 billion now.
India has a head start over locations such as Europe, the US and Japan, among others, as the cost of patient treatment here is much lower, with the medical infrastructure and treatment quality being no lesser than in advanced countries.