The seventh edition of Kerala Health Tourism (KHT) - the International Conference and Exhibition on Health Tourism, got underway at Hotel Le Meridien, Kochi today morning. The Summit organized by Confederation of Indian industry (CII) in association with Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC) will deliberate on the theme Kerala – an emerging Global Hotspot for MVT. International delegates from 9 countries (Bangladesh, Oman, Africa, Jeddha, Cambodia, Iraq, Maldives, Yemen, Uzbezkistan) are taking part in the two-day Summit. Medical Tourism Magazine is the media partner for this event.
Aishath Mohamed Didi, Ambassador, Republic of Maldives in her keynote address said that the health sector service bond has existed between India and Maldives for almost a century. She recalled her childhood experiences when the ingredients for traditional medicine in Maldives, were procured from Kochi. “Maldivians come to Kerala for healthcare not for its proximity, but its good quality. We have felt welcome here,” she said, adding that Kerala continues to be a preferred healthcare destination for Maldivians.
Abdulmalk Abdullah Al Eryani, Ambassador, Republic of Yemen in his keynote address said that India has been a major centre for treatment for Yemenis for the past 40 years. “In Kerala, we have found a very safe environment for our patients,” he added.
Paul Thomas, Chairman, CII Kerala & Founder, Managing Director & CEO, Esaf Microfinance & Investments Pvt Ltd welcomed the gathering. In his address, Thomas pointed out that the medical tourism sector in the country was expected to grow to $7-8 billion by 2020. Foreign nationals are looking at Kerala for advanced medical treatments.
Thomas added that many factors favoured Kerala for the Medical Value Travel (MVT) sector in the form of well-trained practitioners, English speaking medical staff, infrastructure in the form of super specialty hospitals, use of technology, advanced diagnostic equipment, low waiting times and availability of these services at a low cost. Kerala has emerged as a hub of Ayurvedic healing and the mix modern and alternative treatment systems is its unique strength.
Thomas asked the stakeholders in the sector – healthcare and tourism practitioners and the government - to come up with an integrated strategy for building the sector. Dr Harish Pillai, Chief Executive Officer, Aster Hospitals & Clinics, India introduced the theme for the Summit: “Kerala – an emerging Global Hotspot for MVT”. In his address, Dr Pillai said that Kerala has invested significantly in social sectors and has achieved the millennium development goals. The state is on par with OECD countries in many healthcare indicators.
The state has also been an incubator for human talent. In NHS in the UK, 50% of doctors are from India, and 50% of that is from Kerala. Dr Pillai added that a lot of investments are happening in the healthcare sector in the state. Kerala has 40 NABH accredited hospitals (5 in public sector) and hospitals with international accreditations. As a result, the state has been able to reverse the brain drain, with many doctors coming back to the state.
Today, the state’s hospitals are able to compete with facilities anywhere in the world. The MVT sector in Kerala is expected to touch $1billion in revenue, next year. Gokulam Gopalan, Chairman, Gokulam Group in his address said that long waiting times and exorbitant costs are driving people in the developed nations to seek quality healthcare at affordable costs at developing nations. He added that Kerala can flourish as a centre of health tourism, by maintaining quality at every level of healthcare delivery.
E M Najeeb, Executive Director, KIMS Healthcare Management Limited also spoke at the occasion. In his address, Mr. Najeeb said that Kerala has created a reputation for itself through tourism. Today that is helping the state in getting medical tourists from all over the world. He emphasized the need for creating a “Sustainable MVT” by addressing its social and environmental impacts. Mr. Najeeb also called for concerted efforts from all the stakeholders to make Kerala a global hotspot in MVT.
Fr Johnson Vazhappilly, Executive Director & CEO, Rajagiri Hospital in his address said that the state has many positives when in comes to MVT. Reliable care through accredited hospitals, affordability, excellent infrastructure and best talent are some of them. He added that the hospitals, tour facilitators should work towards a win-win situation.
Jyoti Kaur, Deputy Director General, Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC) also spoke on the occasion. In her address, Kaur elaborated on the steps taken by the SEPC to promote export of services and the incentives for Service Exporters provided by the Government of India. “Kerala is one of the most potential states in India for MVT,” she added.
Thomas John Muthoot, Vice Chairman, CII Kerala and Chairman & Managing Director, Muthoot Fincorp Ltd and John Kuruvilla, Director, CII Kerala also graced the occasion.
Spread over two days, the seventh edition of KHT has close to 40 speakers, including experts from the hospital and tourism industry, bureaucrats from the state and national government and other countries. The Summit aims at creating awareness and getting the stakeholders together to promote Kerala as a preferred destination for health tourism, and develop the state as the hub for medical tourism in India.
Panel discussions and talks on topics such as Clinical Excellence in Kerala : The Value Proposition, Health Insurance: A Key Catalyst to Promote MVT, Role of Healthcare Facilitator: Critical Link or Underbelly, Role of Diagnostic Centres & Medical Equipment Manufacturers in Promoting MVT, Accreditation and Quality Initiatives in Kerala, Role of Holistic Medicine in Promoting MVT - The Kerala Model, are being held as part of the Summit.
An exhibition on Medical Equipment Manufacturers and Medical Technology is also being held as part of the Summit. Around 60 exhibitors from healthcare and tourism industry are showcasing their products and services at the exhibition.