Before the COVID-19 pandemic, India was one of the top destinations for medical tourists. Some of the many contributing factors included low-cost medical treatments on par with the International standards, lesser waiting time, budget-friendly package deals, and so on were some of the many reasons people choose to come to India. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started, things have not been the same, and every industry has paid the brunt of the extended lockdown. How has COVID-19 affected the Indian medical tourism industry? Read on to find out.
The country has made tremendous improvements to the healthcare sector by investing in state of the art and latest technologies and healthcare devices. Moreover, the Indian Government also came up with lucrative measures to improve the healthcare sector’s infrastructure. By 2021, India was all set to see significant and profitable changes in the medical tourism sector.
In 2019, the number of medical visas that were issued touched close to 1,68,000. India is considered to be one of the most economical countries for medical treatments. In fact, amongst 41 countries considered Medical Value Travel, India stands in the fifth position. In comparison to the 2017 numbers, the country saw an 18% CAGR growth in 2019.
The on-going pandemic bought the whole world to a standstill. Even India went into a shutdown mode because of the rising cases of COVID-19. Since there were restrictions on air travel, tourists could not enter or leave the country. With all these restrictions in place, the healthcare sector has undergone a lot of losses. Let us look at the impact of COVID-19 on medical tourism in India
The private healthcare sector takes the burden on their shoulders.
The private healthcare sector stood up to the occasion by taking things under their wing. The healthcare sector was left to face with two main burdens. The first is that a lot of investment was made for various resources like consumables, equipment, manpower, etc. Without a proper inflow of revenue, investing in such resources took a significant toll on the private healthcare sector.
Secondly, the OP footfalls dropped massively, along with a drastic reduction of international patients. Moreover, the number of surgeries that were performed fell tremendously. The impact was restricted to the cash flow, but many clinics and healthcare service providers underwent many additional losses. The cost of medicines shot up because of the reduced supply in the market. How has COVID-19 affected the Indian medical tourism industry? Well, not only did the country resources reduced drastically, but there was a shortage of human resources as well.
Along with the healthcare sector, even the medical devices industry took a drastic hit. Due to China’s pandemic crisis, the Indian medical device manufacturers faced a tough time importing various components and raw materials. India imports various kinds of capital equipment, disposables, and consumables from countries like China.
These imports also include magnetic resonance imaging devices, computed tomography, bandages, syringes, gloves, orthopedic implants, and so on. Due to this, manufacturers in India had a lot of unfinished products, which resulted in losses. Some small manufacturing companies had to permanently shut down their operations due to the tremendous losses incurred.
No one knows how deeply the market has been affected. However, the impact of COVID-19 on India’s medical tourism became visible, especially in the financial market. Experts predicted that by 2020, India’s medical tourism industry was all set to touch close to $ 9 billion. However, things took a 360 degree turn when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world.