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IIMK, IIHMR organise international conference on Global Health and Medical Tourism

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Discussions were held on how India is destined to become a global destination for medical tourism

Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode in association with Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR) Jaipur, recently organised an international conference on Global Health and Medical Tourism (GloHMT). The chairperson of the conference was Prof Deepa Sethi, GloHMT and also present were Prof Federico Lega, SDA Bocconi School of Management, University of Milan, Italy and Robin Nunkoo, Associate Professor, University of Mauritius. The event was attended by 150 delegates and paper presenters.

The plenary keynote address (virtual) was given by Jagdish Sheth, Charles H Kellstadt Professor of Marketing, Emory University Goizueta Business School, USA. This was followed by another keynote address by Dr Angappa Gunasekaran, Dean and Professor, The School of Business and Public Administration, California State University. Sheth highlighted about how India is destined to become a global destination for medical tourism and Dr Gunasekaran enlightened the participants about systematic perspective on the applications of big data analytics in healthcare management.

At the inaugural ceremony, Prof Debashis Chatterjee, Director, IIM Kozhikode, gave a welcome speech where he spoke about the pains of organising a conference on a light note. He elaborated about the overall scenario of healthcare in India wherein he stated that the rise in the number of hospitals isn’t a sign of overall good health. He further expounded on the healthcare scenario with an example of the mortality rate of infants where about 48000 infants in India don’t live to see their fifth birthday. He also emphasised on how the US spends $475 per capita on healthcare as compared to just $75 in India.

Dr MR Rajagopal, Chairman, Pallium India, Director, Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences stated that a personal touch is very important during the course of a treatment. He mentioned, “It just shouldn’t be about protocols, procedures and treatments. Human touch is a very important aspect in healthcare and cannot be replaced with technology. He concluded his speech by saying that responsible healthcare is a must. Change is a must. The responsibility lies with the people.”

Dr Naseer Yusuf, Vice President; Cardiology Club, Calicut, emphasised on India’s importance in the global healthcare scenario since India is a very important medical tourism destination. Dr Yusuf said, India offers state-of-the-art healthcare at low costs as compared to the rest of the world. However, he threw some light on the problems that patients travelling to the country for medical needs encounter as well. He emphasised on the importance of staying relevant and staying ahead of the learning curve. He urged the media to be more responsible and help promote India as a MVT destination. He signed off by saying, “If we work together we can achieve results and be the number one destination in the world.”

Prof Federico Lega, SDA Bocconi School of Management, University of Milan, Italy said, “People travel for better quality, privacy and availability of medical treatments. However, with increasing regulations and changing patient demands, the industry is becoming more and more complicated by the day and service providers need to be more sophisticated with their business models to gain competitive advantages.” He further elucidated on the need to build new capabilities and leadership development in healthcare and medical tourism and suggested that global alliances will provide healthcare solutions with the help of disruptive technologies which can be accessible to all. He concluded by saying that in the healthcare industry one has to either adapt or die.

Dr Narayankutty Warrier, Medical Director and Sr Consultant Medical Oncology, MVR Cancer Centre and Research Institute, stressed on the importance of healthy living for a better life. He explained how lifestyle diseases are on the rise and early detection can help prevent the onslaught of disease. He detailed how tobacco is the root cause of 50 per cent of cancers and stated that out of every two children in the Indian sub-continent one would be exposed to passive smoking. Talking on the importance of a healthy and balanced diet, Dr Warrier said that red and processed meats cause cancer and should be avoided or consumed in very low quantities.

Dr Robin Nunkoo, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law and Management, University of Mauritius, spoke about the demand and supply in healthcare sector. People not only travel for entertainment but also for healthtainment. As a result there has been a rise in the number of people travelling for medical treatments and procedures. This has also lead to market expansion and rise in competition at a rapid pace. He also advised that healthcare providers should consider cultural compatibility as caring is very cultural-centric. He topped it off by by saying that there shouldn’t be a healthcare divide. As MVT improves healthcare standards it is important to ensure that the same standard of care is provided to all patients.

Dr Tanuja Nesari, Director, All India Institute of Ayurveda, Ministry of Ayush, firstly spoke on the impact that women have had in every field and then she went on to say that new India isn’t about women development, new India is about women-led development. She then spoke about the impact that Ayurveda and other alternate methods of treatments have made in the last few years. Speaking about Ayush and its achievements, how it is helping India in wellness tourism. She compared it to the rest of the world and said that India is the best and very cost effective.

The conference concluded with a valedictory ceremony where the guest of honours, Sreeram Sambasiva, District Collector, Kozhikode and Dr Sheila Balakrishnan, Professor, Head, Fertility Centre, Trivandrum Medical College, Trivandrum, graced the event with their presence. Sambasiva spoke about the importance of medical tourism and how institutes can contribute in the wide spread awareness of the concept at a national level.

Some faculty members of IIM Kozhikode also attended the event and shared their insights on the topic of medical tourism. Prof Rudra Sensarma, Dean, Research, Innovation, Internationalisation, IIM Kozhikode, during his address to the participants of the conference said, “Medical tourism is gaining popularity due to a number of factors such as ageing population in the western countries, and high cost of treatments. These factors act as an opportunity for countries like India because an average individual who travels for medical tourism spends twelve times more than a normal tourist. This, in turn, acts as a value addition to India’s foreign earnings.”

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