Jalandhar, December 25
Pakistan’s loss is India’s gain. The neighbouring country is losing its decades’ old Afghan medical tourism to North India. Medical tourism involves people travelling from their native country overseas for the purpose of obtaining medicare and treatment.
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The Pakistan government’s Ministry of Commerce had admitted the other day that the amount of neighbouring Afghanistan-based medical tourists to the united states was trickling down fast for two deterrents.
These included intricacies involving Pakistan’s border management policy, increasing difficulties faced by Afghans in getting Pakistani visa, compulsory police security and reports clearances and ‘unnecessary security’ checks at the Pak-Afghan border crossing point.
What, however, spent some time working as a significant factor against Pakistan may be the escalating treatment costs and difficulties faced by Afghan nationals in getting appointments from doctors and also accommodation in Pakistan.
The admission about Pakistan’s dwindling doctor position has can be found in the form of a written reply of Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce to a question of country’s Person in National Assembly Mahesh Kumar Malani.
Pakistan had retained its position as a high medical tourism destination for Afghan nationals until 2016 mainly for favourable factors like almost common language, culture and lesser treatment costs. But, the Afghan medical tourist influx got diverted to North India, including Punjab, after 2016 for cost-effective treatment facilities and easy option of specialist doctors comparatively.
“New Delhi, Noida and gurgaon have emerged as three preferred cities for a large number of Afghans for treatment purposes. Many of them have started arriving at Punjab. We’ve performed heart surgery on several Afghan patients,” said Dr Charanjit Singh Pruthi, managing director of Jalandhar-based BBC Capitol and HeartCare Hospital.
According to Dr Vijay Mahajan, the procedure costs of heart bypass surgery and knee replacement was 50 % lesser in India in comparison with Pakistan.
Dr Kuldip Singh, a Ludhiana-based laproscopic surgeon, said a significant chunk of Afghan patients arrived at New Delhi-based top hospitals like Medanta, Fortis and batra. “A genuine amount of kidney, knee-replacement and heart patients have started decreasing to Ludhiana-based Apollo, DMC along with other hospitals because of increased awareness,” he described.
Earlier, Afghans landing at IGI Airport for treatment were misled by conduits of several Delhi hospitals allegedly, insiders say. Now Afghans tend to be more aware of the option of cost-effective medical facilities in other areas of North India, punjab mainly, because of proliferation of internet along with other communication channels in Afghanistan.
“The majority of Afghan patients aren’t as rich. So, they will have started shopping for cost-effective alternative healthcare facilities within India even,” observed Ludhiana-based dentist Dr Vivek Saggar.