Medical tourism in India

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Medical tourism is a growing sector in India. In mid–2020, India's medical tourism sector was estimated to be worth US$ 5–6 billion.[1] In 2017, 495,056 patients visited India to seek medical care. According to a report from 2019 by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Ernst & Young, most of the medical tourist arrivals in India were from Southeast Asia, Middle East, Africa, and SAARC region.[2] India also receives significant number of medical tourists from Australia, Canada, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[3] The city of Chennai has come to known as the healthcare capital of India.

To encourage applications and ease the travel process for medical tourists, the government has expanded its e-tourism VISA regime on February 2019, to include medical visas. The maximum duration of stay under this visa is 6 months.[4] Since 30 August 2019, foreigners can receive any medical treatment in India with the exception of organ transplants without a medical visa.[2]


Advantages of medical treatment in India include reduced costs, the availability of latest medical technologies,[5] and a growing compliance on international quality standards, doctors trained in western countries including the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as English-speaking personnel, due to which foreigners are less likely to face language barrier in India.



Most estimates found that treatment costs in India start at around one-tenth of the price of comparable treatment in the United States or the United Kingdom.[6][7] The most popular treatments sought in India by medical tourists are alternative medicine, bone-marrow transplant, cardiac bypass, eye surgery, and hip replacement.

Quality of care[edit]

India has 39 JCI accredited hospitals.[8] However, for a patient traveling to India, it is important to find the optimal doctor-hospital combination. After the patient has been treated, the patient has the option of either recuperating in the hospital or at a paid accommodation nearby. Many hospitals also give the option of continuing the treatment through telemedicine.

The city of Chennai has been termed "India's health capital".[9][10][11][12] Multi- and super-specialty hospitals across the city bring in an estimated 150 international patients every day.[9] Chennai attracts about 45 percent of health tourists from abroad arriving in the country and 30 to 40 percent of domestic health tourists.[10] Factors behind the tourists inflow in the city include low costs, little to no waiting period,[13] and facilities offered at the specialty hospitals in the city.[9] The city has 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] Dental clinics have attracted dental care tourism to Chennai.[15]

Private institutions and organisations such as Max Healthcare have consulted and treated up to 50,000 foreign patients in hospitals across the country.

The promotion of medical tourism in India has helped private players capitalize on this market opportunity.[16]

According to Darpan Jain, Joint Secretary of the Indian government's Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce & Industry:

The strength of India lies in the skills of our doctors, support staff, calibre of our nurses and the state–of–the art infrastructure which has come up in the last few years, some of which are still not available even in very developed economies.[2]

Ease of travel[edit]

The government has removed visa restrictions on tourist visas that required a two-month gap between consecutive visits for people from Gulf countries which is likely to boost medical tourism.[17] A visa-on-arrival scheme for tourists from select countries has been instituted which allows foreign nationals to stay in India for 30 days for medical reasons.[18] In 2016, citizens of Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Maldives, Republic of Korea and Nigeria availed the most medical visas.[19]


Despite India's diversity of languages, English is an official language and is widely spoken by most people and almost universally by medical professionals. In Noida, a number of hospitals have hired language translators to make patients from Balkan and African countries feel more comfortable while at the same time helping in the facilitation of their treatment.[20]

A large number of medical tourism companies are facilitating foreigners, especially patients from Arabic-, Russian-, English-, and Bangla-speaking countries.[citation needed]


In November 2019, a report from The Economic Times stated that of all medical tourist arrivals in India, Maharashtra receives 27%, Chennai receives around 15%, and Kerala receives nearly 5–7% of them.[2]


Russia Beyond notes that of the estimated 300,000 Russian medical tourists who travel worldwide every year for healthcare, India receives over 70,000 of them.[3]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Suryanarayan, N. (2017). "The role of the Russian language in India's Healthcare Sector". Russian Journal of Linguistics. Moscow. 21 (3): 515–529. doi:10.22363/2312-9182-2017-21-3-515-529. ISSN 2686-8024 – via Peoples' Friendship University of Russia.
  • "How Technology Is Changing Health Care in India". Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


  1. ^ "Medical tourism companies turn to telemedicine in wake of Covid-19". Hindustan Times. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Mabiyan, Rashmi (November 20, 2019). "Is India doing enough to carve a niche in medical tourism?". The Economic Times. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Katz, Alexandra (April 16, 2015). "India emerges as new destination for Russian medical tourists". Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  4. ^ "Centre liberalises e-Visa regime to make it more tourist friendly". The Economic Times. 2019-02-15. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  5. ^ "Reason to smile". The Hindu. 2011-10-24.
  6. ^ "Indian medical care goes global", Aljazeera.Net, June 18, 2006 Nov 11, 2006
  7. ^ Laurie Goering, "For big surgery, Delhi is dealing," The Chicago Tribune, March 28, 2008
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-08-13. Retrieved 2013-09-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ a b c Hamid, Zubeda (20 August 2012). "The medical capital's place in history". The Hindu. Chennai. Retrieved 15 Sep 2012.
  10. ^ a b National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers. "Chennai – India's Health Capital". India Health Visit. Retrieved 1 Sep 2012.
  11. ^ "Chennai High: City gets most foreign tourists". The Times of India. Chennai: The Times Group. 27 August 2010. Retrieved 11 Sep 2012.
  12. ^ "சென்னை இந்தியாவின் மருத்துவ தலைநகரா?". BBC Tamil. BBC. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 15 Sep 2012.
  13. ^ Porecha, Maitri (8 August 2012). "Long wait makes patients head south". Daily News & Analysis. Mumbai: Retrieved 15 Sep 2012.
  14. ^ "Country's med capital to get 3,000 more beds". The Times of India. Chennai: The Times Group. 16 July 2011. Retrieved 16 Sep 2012.
  15. ^ Rajan, Manoj (4 October 2011). "Foreigners flock to city for dental care". The Times of India. Chennai: The Times of India. Retrieved 2 Jan 2013.
  16. ^ Manveena Suri. "India wants to make medical tourism a $9 billion industry by 2020". CNN. Retrieved 2019-03-15.
  17. ^ "Easing of visa norms to boost medical tourism". The Times of India. 2012-12-05.
  18. ^ "Visa-on-arrival". 2012-12-05.
  19. ^ "Medical tourism to keep pharma industry in good health: Study". dna. 20 February 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  20. ^ "Medical translators to aid foreign patients". The Times of India. 2013-01-24.