Home News Skilled manpower revolutionises India’s health system, as 18,000 Nigerians spend $260m in...

Skilled manpower revolutionises India’s health system, as 18,000 Nigerians spend $260m in India

By Lexi Elo
Skilled manpower in health and wellness services revolutionised India’s healthcare system, which made India become a haven for medical tourism, raking in over $1.5 billion in 2012, SundiataPost investigation reveals.

Indian patients were travelling to the United Kingdom, Germany, United States of America (USA), in the 1980s’ to receive timely access to treatments such as coronary artery bypass surgery, bypass surgery with heart valve replacement, hip replacement, knee replacement, kidney transplant, etc, acquiring appropriate skill to drive the sector that has redefined India in the 21st century.

Dr. Ram Narain, executive director, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai, India, said that India has a reputation for expertise in super speciality due to skilled manpower resident in India, acquired over a period of time.

With the capacity in super specialty segment seeking Indian hospitals expanding fast, Narain stated that infrastructure spending for health care has surged, with the private sector equipping with state-of-the-art technology.

“Before now, it is not uncommon to see citizens of other nations seeking high quality medical care in the US over the past decades. In recent times, the pattern seems to be reversing. Top Indian hospitals have stepped in to provide quality healthcare and technology. This is driven by leading-edge diagnostic technology, coupled with experienced and knowledgeable physicians who gained practical experience abroad.

“Nigeria doesn’t need millions of dollars to turnaround the health sector; appropriate skill set is the pre-requisite to make it a medical destination in Africa,” Narain stated.

Dr. Abhaya Kumar, consultant neurosurgeon and spinal surgeon, disclosed that the reason behind India emerging has a hub for excellent medical treatment is because of its strength of highly qualified medical professionals and even equally higher qualities of availability of nurses.

While qualified doctors and numbers of qualified nursing graduates are of high professional calibre who are content and satisfied with reasonable professional fees, Dr. Abhayay stated that lower medical costs for various ailments compared to western countries has fuelled its growth.

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“Reduced costs, access to the latest medical technology, growing compliance to international quality standards and ease of communication all work towards India’s advantage,” Dr. Kumar added.

Science journals reveal Indian healthcare quest to match international standards of quality of care and safety. Over 17 Indian hospitals have been accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI) as accreditation and compliance with quality expectations are important since they provide tourists with confidence that services meet international standards.

The lessons learnt from India is coming as Nigerians seeking specialised care in healthcare institutions across the country would need to look elsewhere to address their needs as a result of huge dearth of specialists in the nation’s health sector.

Following the rise in the number of medical professionals seeking better incentives in foreign hospitals, many states in Nigeria are short of experts in sub-specialities like paediatrics, oncology, neurology and psychiatry, with the few left behind preferring to practice in urban areas.

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Figures released by the Indian High Commission reveal that forty-seven percent of Nigerians visiting India in the year 2012 did so to get medical attention, while the remaining 53 percent did so for other reasons. The 47 percent of Nigerians who visited India for medical purposes amounted to 18,000 persons and they expended $260 million in scarce foreign exchange in the process. The numbers are believed to be on the rise each passing year.

The trend of referring patients from health institutions in Nigeria to similar institutions in India has been a common practice. This development has made many Nigerians lose confidence in the ability of the nation’s healthcare institutions to deliver quality healthcare.

Suresh Makhijani, Indian Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, said that 18,000 Nigerians were issued visas for medical treatment in India in 2012 with the High Commission issuing a total of 38,000 visas in all to Nigerians, during the year.

“Out of this number, we discovered that 18,000 of them travelled for medical treatment in different Indian public and private hospitals. What this goes to show is that many more Nigerians are today turning to India’s good quality and cost effective healthcare services, “Makhijani added.

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