Karnataka to standardize costs of medical tourism services

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Bengaluru: In a big relief to foreigners who visit Karnataka for medical tourism and traditional wellness outings, the government has decided to streamline the industry by standardizing the cost and ensuring quality services. The government will come up with a first-of-its-kind policy on medical tourism and wellness in a month with a focus on the niche travel segment so that tourists are not cheated on such trips. “We aim to bring in transparency, get hospitals and wellness centers to register with us, put out their rate charts, details of the procedures they offer, and their success rates to allow tourists to choose what suits them best. The purpose is ensure people who come to the state to experience yoga and ayurveda are not cheated or discriminated against,” said tourism minister Priyank M. Kharge.
The minister cited the example of Mysuru, a growing hub for yoga in the country where many centers have mushroomed overnight, promising a range of alternative and traditional healing techniques for foreign tourists. “Once the new policy is in place, it will be mandatory for these centers to give information regarding qualification of experts, dis play validated clinical outcomes and maintain minimum standards of facilities, safety and hygiene. This will give patients an opportunity to make an informed choice,” he added.
The officials who are involved in drafting the policy said the proposed scheme will also look into issues of regulation, accreditation and marketing of medical and traditional wellness centers, providing treatment and care in areas of ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy .There is also a plan to set up a web portal that will have medical and wellness services listed along with the accreditation so that users can choose wisely. It can also be used to address patients’ complaints.
Pavithra Ponnappa, a medical tourism consultant, said the growth of medical and wellness tourism has been between 20% and 25% in Karnataka over the past few years and there is a lot of potential here. More people are coming to the state to find affordable quality medical care for both necessary and cosmetic medical services, but the industry has suffered in recent times, with increase in complaints of foreign tourists being duped by hospitals and wellness centers who trick them into paying extra by claiming that a particular treatment has cure for everything,” she added.
What is medical tourism?
When foreigners require surgery or cosmetic medical services, they combine the need with a trip to Hampi or a stay at a luxury resort in Kodagu or Chikkamagaluru or at a hospital that feels like one -all at bargain basement prices.
TIMES VIEW
The decision to streamline the medical tourism sector is a step in right direction. The wellness industry is poised for steady growth and Karnataka has been taking the initiative to attract investment and tourists. However, without a system in place, there have been complaints about mushrooming of illegal centers which charge hefty fees and indulge in fraudulent activities. While cashing in on the growth, it’s imperative to create an atmosphere where foreigners are not discriminated against. Ensure that norms don’t just remain on paper -effective implementation is the key to root out the bad apples before it is too late.

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