Medical tourism industry facing crisis as pollution

New Delhi, Nov 14 (IANS)
Air pollution has evolved as a serious problem in recent decades with high toxicological impact on human health ranging from lungs to other important organs and leading to 7 million premature deaths annually across the globe.
However, the impact of air pollution enveloping Delhi and its surroundings goes beyond the body’s respiratory realm to affect the medical tourism industry of the country. Overseas patients hesitate to visit Delhi, which is one of the important medical tourism destinations, during these times when pollution levels remain on peak.
“Post-pandemic, the medical value tourism sector was doing really well. It saw immense growth and the Services Export Council also proposed and executed innovative ideas to help augment the sector multifold. With the current air pollution scenario in north India, the industry is facing some issues,” Services Export Council Chairman Sunil Talati said.
He said that the medical tourism market in India is worth $6 billion and it is expected to expand to $13 billion by 2026. However, overseas patients are a bit apprehensive about visiting at such a time as air pollution leads to many health problems.
“Since we are positioning India as a global wellness destination, it is crucial that besides the treatment facilities our environment is also healthy. The high pollution scenario is hampering the growth of MVT,” he added.
Air pollution causes major health issues, both in the long and short term, as every year, it sees an upsurge around Diwali. The stubble burning contributes significantly in enveloping the region with smog blanket. In recent some years, India has been positioned as the major health destination, but the surge in the pollution is proving a major hindrance.
Global Care founder and CEO Rajeev Taneja said: “With the government’s initiatives, the industry is receiving global recognition but the recent surge in air pollution in north India has proved to be a major roadblock in growth. We are getting patient queries but it is not good for both the patients or the reputation of our country as a wellness destination to augment MVT during these circumstances.”
Meanwhile, the pollution levels have slightly improved in the region, but still it is in very poor category and experts warns of prolonged exposure to this toxic air which could lead to serious multiple problems. Experts advised that those persons suffering with COPD and other respiratory disease must use the N95 mask while going outside.
“Awareness of using the proper mask play crucial role in preventing the harmful pollutants going inside as the clothes mask is not so much affective in preventing PM 2.5 pollutants. Only, the N95 or the ISI certified FFP2 mask can only prevent harmful pollutants going inside,” mask manufacturer Hemant Sapra told IANS.

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