Kolkata, April 27 (Business Standard): Of the 460,000 inbound patients in Indian hospitals, more than 165,000 were from Bangladesh, which means one in three foreign patients was from Bangladesh.
They bought over $343 million worth of services, Indian newspaper Business Standard says quoting the Directorate-General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics.
More than 58,000 medical visas were issued in that period from Bangladesh which means many having other categories of visas took medical attention in India.
The government report shows that Bangladeshis were, in fact, the largest foreign user of their health services in 2015-16.
As the medical service sector is thriving on Bangladeshi patients, the Indian government has now extended the visa facilities for the diagnostic tests to attract more patients.
Bangladesh last year toppled the US as the origin of the highest number of foreign tourists, mostly due to medical tourism.
With the growing trend of people’s movement, both sides have also expanded the routes of travel.
A new bus service between Kolkata and Dhaka and a rail link between Kolkata and Khulna were inaugurated earlier on Apr 8 during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also responded to the request of Bangladesh to give medical visa also for diagnostic tests.
For India, medical tourism from nations with higher average health costs or poor infrastructure stood at $620 million in 2016-17.
After Bangladesh, the highest number of medical visas were allowed to Afghanistan (29,400), followed by Iraq (9139) and Nigeria (5994).
The highest average spending was by Pakistan. Each patient spent about $2,906. A total of 1,921 Pakistani nationals were issued medical visas, a mere 1.35 percent of all incoming patients.
However, with $111 million, the Unites States was the second after Bangladesh in the cumulative figure of spending for medical treatment.
The report also listed contract research and telemedicine as promising areas, while clinical trials were still a small market. Orthopaedics, cardiology and neurology were among the top draw for foreign patients.
India’s services exports rose to $155 billion in 2015 from $52 billion in 2005, with a share of 3.3 percent in global services exports.
In the first 11 months of 2016-17, services exports were at $146.5 billion, according to Business Standard.
Information technology and software services contribute over 48 percent to India’s overall services exports.