Healthcare in Chennai

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Facade of the Government General Hospital. Catering to about 40 percent of domestic and 45 percent of international health tourists arriving in the country, Chennai is termed the Health Capital of India.

Healthcare in Chennai is provided by both government-run and private hospitals. Chennai attracts about 45 percent of health tourists from abroad arriving in the country and 30 to 40 percent of domestic health tourists.[1] The city has been termed India's health capital.[1][2][3] Multi- and super-specialty hospitals across the city bring in an estimated 150 international patients every day.[3] Factors behind the tourists' inflow in the city include low costs, little to no waiting period,[4] and facilities offered at the speciality hospitals in the city.[3]


The medical lineage of the city began with the first hospital of India set up at Fort St. George on 16 November 1664 by Sir Edward Winter to treat sick soldiers of the East India Company.[5] The hospital grew, expanded, and moved out of the fort to its present location in 1772, where it stands today as the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, and was opened to Indians in 1842.[6] In 1785, medical departments were set up in Bengal, Madras, and Bombay presidencies with 234 surgeons.[5]

Although the Western system of medicine was brought to India by the Portuguese, the base for a systematised and widespread network of government-run hospitals began with the hospital in Madras, as the city was known then. Throughout the colonial era, doctors from Europe and Eurasia trained and practised at the first hospital. Between 1800 and 1820, about four hospitals were formed in Madras.[5] In 1835, Madras Medical College was set up, making it one of the oldest colleges of European medicine in Asia. In 1854, when the British government agreed to supply medicines and instruments to the growing network of minor hospitals and dispensaries, government store depots were established in Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, and Rangoon.[5] In 1900, the Christian Medical College, Vellore was established, attracting some of the best talents in the United States. The Madras Public Health Act, the first of its kind in the country, was passed in 1939.[5]

In the later half of the twentieth century, many prominent institutions began to appear in the city. The Cancer Institute in Adyar was set up in 1954, and Sankara Nethralaya was founded in 1976, adding to the city's reputation. Along with the Government General Hospital they served as renowned centres for diagnosis, treatment and research for decades. The establishment of the Apollo Hospital in the city in 1983 marked the advent of corporate hospitals in the country.[3] The city is where one of the earliest paediatric intensive care units (PICUs) was established in the 1990s.[7]

Today, Chennai is the hub of medical tourism in the country, an industry that is expected to grow at an estimated 30% per year, which is expected to become worth about 95,000 million by 2015, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.[3]

Healthcare institutes[edit]

Surgery block at Stanley Hospital
Government multi-super speciality hospital

The government-aided hospitals in the city include General Hospital, Government multi-super speciality hospital, Government Kilpauk Hospital, Government Royapettah Hospital, Government Stanley Hospital, Adyar Cancer Institute, TB Sanatorium, and National Institute of Siddha. The National Institute of Siddha is one of the seven apex national-level educational institutions that promote excellence in Indian system of medicine and Ayurveda.[8] Non-profit hospitals in the city include the Hindu Mission Hospital. Some of the popular private-run hospitals in Chennai are Apollo Hospitals, Dr. Kamakshi Memorial Hospitals,[9] Chettinad Health City, Billroth Hospitals, MIOT Hospital, Global Health City, SRM Hospital, Vasan Healthcare, Kauvery Hospital, Deepam Pallavaram Hospital and Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre. The prime NABH-accredited hospitals includes Chennai Apollo Speciality Hospital, Dr Mehta Hospitals, Frontier Lifeline Hospital, Global Hospitals & Health City, Sankara Nethralaya, and Vijaya Medical & Educational Trust.[10] Apollo Hospitals Group has five hospitals in the city, including a main hospital and a speciality oncology hospital, with a total bed count of 1,100.[11] The city has about seven palliative care units.[12] Poonamallee High Road, one of the arterial roads of the city, has more hospitals than any other roads in the city and is known as the city's 'Med street'.[13]

As of 2012, the city had an estimated 12,500 hospital beds, of which only half is used by the city's population with the rest being shared by patients from other states of the country and foreigners.[14] It is estimated that the number of beds in multi-specialty hospitals in the private sector in the city is in the range of 5,000 beds, whereas in the public sector it is over 6,000 beds.[15] This works to 2.1 beds per 1,000 population against the national average of less than 1 bed per 1,000 population, making the city better than other cities in the country, viz., Delhi (1.4), Mumbai (0.8), Kolkata (0.8), Hyderabad (1.5) and Bangalore (2.1). However, this still does not fulfil World Health Organization norms of three beds per 1,000 persons.[14] By mid-2012, with the addition of at least 3,000 beds in four leading hospitals in the city, the private hospital sector in the city is expected to increase its bed strength by nearly 25 percent.[14] As of 2019, four government hospitals have pay wards, namely, Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (198 beds), Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Government Hospital for Women and Children (46 beds), Government Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for Women and Children (32 beds), and Gastrointestinal Bleed Centre of Government Stanley Medical College Hospital (58 beds). The occupancy rates in these pay wards was 90 to 100 percent.[16]

According to Chennai Corporation sources, there are about 250 registered laboratories in the city, although there are almost thrice as many unregistered ones.[17] The city has six units of the state government's co-operative drug stores across the state known as Kamadhenu co-operative medical stores, where a wide range of 13,000 important medicines would be sold, including 6,000 medicines available on any given day. The government is planning to add 10 more stores in the city.[18]

In May 2011, Corporation of Chennai initiated an online direct health-reporting system under which all the hospitals in the city are required to provide details of the patients on a daily basis to the Corporation.[19]

List of major hospitals in Chennai
Institute Hospital type Locality Established Chief specialty Number of beds Notes
Government General Hospital Government Park Town 1664 General medicine 2,029[20] The first medical institution in India
Government multi-super speciality hospital Government Government Estate 2014 General medicine 400 Originally built as an assembly complex but later converted into a hospital
Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre Private Gopalapuram 1991 Diabetes[21]
Government Royapettah Hospital Government Royapettah 1911 General medicine 712[20]
Government Stanley Hospital Government Vallalar Nagar 1799 General medicine 1,271[20]
Kilpauk Medical College Hospital Government Kilpauk 1960 General medicine 515[20]
Perambur railway hospital Government Ayanavaram 1928 General medicine 505
Institute of Obstertrics & Gynaecology Hospital for Women & Children Government Egmore Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Paediatrics 752[20]
Institute of Child Health & Hospital for Children Government Egmore 1948 Paediatrics 537[20]
Government Institute of Mental Health Government Kilpauk 1794 Neurology 1,800[20] Second largest mental health institute in India
Government Peripheral Hospital, K. K. Nagar Government K. K. Nagar 1977 General medicine 100[20]
Government Peripheral Hospital, Tondiarpet Government Tondiarpet 1979 General medicine 100[20]
Government Peripheral Hospital, Anna Nagar Government Anna Nagar 1979 General medicine 100[20]
Regional Institute of Ophthalmology and Government Ophthalmic Hospital Government Egmore 1819 Ophthalmology 478[20]
Government Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine Government K. K. Nagar 1979 60[20]
Government Hospital of Thoracic Medicine Government Tambaram Sanatorium 1920 Thoracic medicine 776[20]
Raja Sir Ramasamy Mudaliar Lying-In Hospital Government Royapuram 1880 510[20]
Voluntary Health Services Private Taramani 1958 465
Government Kasthuribai Gandhi Hospital Government Chepauk 695[20]
Institute of Thoracic Medicine, Chetput Government Chetput 1916
Thiruvetreeswarar Hospital for Thoracic Medicine, Otteri Government Otteri
Tamil Nadu Government Dental College and Hospital Government George Town 1953
Adyar Cancer Institute Adyar 1954 Oncology 423 Rated by the World Health Organization as the top-ranking centre in the country
Apollo Hospitals Greams Road 1983 First corporate hospital in the country
Chettinad Health City Corporate Kelambakkam 2007 600
Fortis Malar Hospital Corporate Adyar 161
Hindu Mission Hospital NGO Tambaram 1982 220
LIMA (Lifeline Institute of Minimal Access) Keyhole Surgery Corporate Kilpauk 1932 Keyhole Surgery (since 1997) 100 Started as an individual-owned clinic
Madras Medical Mission Mugappair 1987 207
National Institute of Siddha Tambaram 2005 120
Sankara Nethralaya 1978
Sir Ivan Stedeford Hospital Ambattur 1966 212
Sri Ramachandra Medical College Porur 1985 >1,500
Sundaram Medical Foundation Anna Nagar 1990
Dr. Kamakshi Memorial Hospitals Corporate Pallikaranai, Velachery & Chennai 2005 300 Performed more than 45000+ critical surgeries[citation needed]
MIOT Hospital Corporate Manapakkam 1999 Orthopaedics and Traumatology 1000 [22] Performed more than 30,000 joint replacement surgeries[23]
Billroth Hospitals Corporate Shenoy Nagar, RA Puram and Tiruvallur 1990 600
Balaji Dental and Craniofacial Hospital Teynampet 1994 25
Deepam Pallavaram Hospital Pallavaram 1995 Trauma Care >135 to 250

Home Healthcare[edit]

Home healthcare and Home Nursing are also a growing phenomena in India. India Home Health Care is one such service provider, based in Chennai & Bangalore with over 300 nurses.[24][25]

Medical education[edit]

The city has four government medical colleges and one ESI medical college, apart from private medical colleges. The four government-run colleges include Madras Medical College, Stanley Medical College, Kilpauk Medical College, and Omandurar Government Medical College.[26]

Medical tourism[edit]

With people from across the country and abroad preferring to get treated in the hospitals in Chennai, the city is increasingly becoming a hub of medical tourism.[27] According to a study by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Chennai attracts about 40 percent of the country's medical tourists.[28] As of 2013, the city receives up to 200 foreign patients every day.[29] The Coromandel Express, which plies between Kolkata and Chennai, is nicknamed 'Ambulance Express' in Howrah since it regularly ferries a chunk of patients from the eastern region for medical treatment at hospitals in Chennai.[30] Foreigners, especially those from developing and underdeveloped countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Burundi, Congo, Malawi Bangladesh, Oman and Iraq, come to the city for advanced medical care.[31] About 150 Maldivian patients arrive at the city every day for medical treatment, which resulted in Maldivian Airlines launching a thrice-a-week direct flight from Male to Chennai.[32] From Malawi, numerous patients are travelling to india.[33] Their most preferred destination is Chennai & Medobal healthcare.[34] However, there are no consolidated statistics about the number of foreign patients that the city receives. Most leading hospitals, which receive a steady stream of patients from other states of India and abroad every day, have separate wings for international patients. Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre receives up to 100 overseas patients a month. Dr.Kamakshi Memorial Hospital receives 10 to 15 foreign patients in a month. Fortis Malar Hospital receives 15 to 20 foreign patients a month. Madras Medical Mission receives 14 foreign medical tourists every month, mainly from East African nations. Sankara Nethralaya receives nearly 500 overseas patients a month.[31] MIOT Hospitals receives nearly 300 foreign patients every month.[35]

Special certifications[edit]

With more than 75 percent of the medical tourists being from the Middle East, hospitals in the city are vying for 'halal' certification. On 14 May 2012, the city-based Global Health City became the first in the country to receive the halal certification from the Halal Development Authority.[36] Other hospitals in the city that have applied for the certification include Mehta Hospitals and Lifeline Hospitals.[36] Halal-friendly medical tourism services include food, prayer hall, 'quiblah' (the direction of Mecca) signs in every room, payer mate, copies of Quran and appointments of woman physicians for woman patients.[37]

Supportive infrastructure[edit]

In January 2010, Aloka Trivitron Medical Technologies Park, the country's first medical technological park, was inaugurated in the SIPCOT complex at Irungattukottai in Sriperumbudur.[38] Spread across 25 acres, the medical technology park, a facility to produce high-tech medical equipment, is designed to house 10 international medical technology manufacturers, in addition to Trivitron's own manufacturing units. The range of products to be manufactured at the medical technology park include ultrasound systems, X-ray machines/C-arm, in-vitro diagnostic reagents, modular operating theatres, operating room tables and lights, molecular diagnostic products, hemodialysis products, ECG/cardiac diagnostic instruments, critical care instruments and implantable medical devices.[39][40]

NGOs and Non-Profits[edit]

Chennai has a strong base of healthcare non-profit organisations and non-government organisations. One such example is the Indian Heart Association, focused on cardiovascular health prevention.[41]

Other NGO example includes MOHAN Foundation that works for awareness for cadaver donation since 1997 and creating an organ sharing registry in the state of Tamil Nadu.[42]

Facts and records[edit]

A former superintendent of the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology in the city, Kirk Patrick, was the first to have found the adenovirus that caused conjunctivitis, leading to the name Madras eye for the disease.[43]

The city is preeminent in transplant surgery, with several city-based hospitals creating records in such surgeries. Chennai recorded the first ever liver transplant in the country in the Government Stanley Medical College in the 1990s.[44]

In May 2011, the Madras Medical College opened the first-of-its-kind Orthopaedic Cadaveric Skills Lab in any government college in the country to train post graduate students in cadaveric dissection.[45]

In March 2012, the Government General Hospital performed its 1,000th kidney transplant, the highest in any government hospital in the country, of which about 90 were cadaver transplants.[44]

In 2008, the state government established a cadaver transplant programme at the Chennai Medical College.[46] The programme has a regular transplant-coordinator and a computerised network linking government and private hospitals.[44] Apollo Hospitals and the Government General Hospital continues to be the two main sources of cadaveric organs in the city. With the organ donor rate in the state of Tamil Nadu standing at 1.2 per million population, which is 15 times the national average, Chennai acts as a hub of deceased organ donation in India.[47]

Tamil Nadu has been the number one state in deceased donation. It has been awarded the best performing state in organ donation and transplantation in India by the Indian government for 2015 and 2016.[48][49][50]

In 2009, a group of doctors and specialists in Chennai and Coimbatore registered the successful treatment of thalassemia in a child using a sibling's umbilical cord blood.[51]

Future projects[edit]

In August 2011, the state government decided to convert the much controversial, half-constructed Assembly-Secretariat complex in the city, built at an estimated 10,920 million, into a multi-specialty hospital.[52]

The city-based KM Cherian–promoted Frontier Lifeline has proposed a 10,000-million medicity project named Frontier Mediville on 350 acres of land of which 42 acres had received special economic zone (SEZ) status from the central government in 2009. Located at Elavur village, 40 km from the city centre, the project will be executed in three phases. The 1,600-million first phase will comprise a medical science park in the SEZ zone. It also includes a research and training centre and an animal laboratory to house clinical research organisations (CROs). The second will costing 5,000 million includes a 1,440-million bio hospital with 200 beds in the SEZ. The bio hospital is expected to be the first of its kind in India, designed as tertiary care in all sub-specialities of medicine supported by modern basic sciences including stem cell technology, tissue engineering and nanotechnology, which would also focus on integration of traditional and alternate medicinal technologies such as ayurveda, naturopathy, and siddha to the services. The second phase also includes another 750-bed multispeciality general hospital to be developed outside the SEZ.[53]

In 2014, the Indian government decided to establish a regional centre for organ transplant in Chennai, which would be one of the five regional centres in the country. The regional centres would collect data and send it to the national registry. The Chennai centre would cover the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Pondicherry, and Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands.[54]


Despite being known as the 'Mecca' of healthcare, only six private hospitals in the city have been accredited by the National Board for Accreditation of Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) as of 2012. [55][56]

But, as per the latest release by National Board for Accreditation of Hospitals and Healthcare Providers, over 23 hospitals in chennai are NABH accredited. [57]

Per a research published in the August 2011 issue of the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, there was no evidence of falsification of medicines in a sampling study carried out in the city, though 43 percent of drugs were substandard.[58]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]