Whats in a name? Nothing,if the Bard is to be believed. But it is the name given to a new superbug by his countrys medical fraternity that has evoked widespread indignation from Indias medical industry. The concern of the medical industry is not misplaced,given the fact that superbug New Delhi Metallo-1 (NDM-1) has the potential to cause grave harm to Indias rapidly growing medical tourism industry.
The alarm bells are ringing loud,especially in Gujarat where the industry is poised for exponential growth. Since 2006 the state government has been giving special incentives to this sector,which also has great potential to rake in forex earnings. Last year an estimated 4.50 lakh tourists visited the state for its state-of-the-art medical care facilities.
Indias healthcare market is projected to breach Rs 3,200 billion by 2012 and Gujarat is eyeing a huge chunk of this pie. The states policymakers are banking on the fact that the Gujarati community accounts for over 30% of the 21 million NRIs settled around the world. For this huge NRG diaspora,it makes eminent sense to club medical tourism with their annual sojourns to the homeland. According to recent surveys,Gujarat already contributes 25-31% the earnings of Indias medical tourism industry.
Thats because over the past few years the states medical industry has taken giant strides in achieving world-class standardsbeing counted as better than many South East Asian nations and even as a major threat to Singaporethe only serious contender in the medical tourism arena. While Maharashtra and Delhi are currently the top two states in the field,Gujarat is fast catching up because of the astute moves that its hospitals are making to lure more medical tourists. The state is also improving its international air connectivity. Also on the cards is a Medicity,which would provide holistic treatment through various Indian systems of medicine.
With so much at stake,it is not surprising that the bad publicity generated by NDM-1 has sent alarm bells ringing throughout Gujarats medical fraternity. This scare can cause lasting damage to the states medical tourism industry as visitors wouldnt want to jeopardise their health. Its now up to the government to fire-fight and save the industry.