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India's medical tourism to boom despite barriers: Expert

Panaji, April 30 (IANS) Medical tourism in India will continue to boom despite attempts by US President Barack Obama's administration to curb the flow of American patients to Mexico and India for cost effective healthcare, a top medical professional said Saturday.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Panaji, chief cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon at the Fortis group of hospitals Vivek Javali said the medical tourism sector in India would only mature as time goes by and that India would continue to attract patients from Europe and US, because of cost effective and qualitative healthcare available here.

Javali, who has performed more than 15,000 surgeries and is known as the father of invasive cardiac surgery in India, also said that the economics of healthcare globally, tilted the scales of medical tourism in favour of countries like India.

'The ground reality is that more and more foreigners from Europe and US are now heading towards India for not just cosmetic treatment but even for complex surgeries. Despite what Obama says, medical tourism in India is bound to mature,' Javali said.

'The nature of politics in the US is forcing them into making such statements. Medical tourism in India will only grow in the coming years,' Javali said.

Obama earlier this week had said that he would change the US healthcare system to discourage Americans from seeking medical treatment in India and Mexico.

'My preference would be that you don't have to travel to Mexico or India for cheap healthcare. I'd like you to be able to get it right here in the United States of America that's high quality,' Obama said, when asked about why US health insurance won't cover medical expenses incurred abroad.

The growth rate of India's medical tourism sector is reportedly pegged at 30 percent and is expected to be a Rs.9,500-crore industry in the next five years.

Healthcare experts have pegged medical tourism market in India go notch the $2 billion a year by 2012. An estimated 150,000 people travel to India for low-priced healthcare procedures every year.

Source sify