The crisis in Iraq is reducing numbers of medical tourists to India from Iraq, Iran and Syria.
Some Delhi hospitals get between 25% and 35% of their medical tourists from the region, as they seek cardiology, spinal injuries and oncology. War has virtually destroyed the healthcare sector in Iraq and Syria, so patients with money have been traveling to India and other countries to get treatment. While Iran has much better health facilities than the other two, those needing specialist care still have to look abroad.
Director of international business at the Rockland group of hospitals, Sunil Kapur, says, “There has been a dramatic drop in patients from Iraq, Syria and Iran. Where we would get five to eight patients every day, we are now getting one patient a week.”
Anil Vinayak at Max Healthcare agrees, “We expect a drop in patients traveling from Iraq, if the situation does not improve soon. Patients are facing difficulty in getting flight tickets. Also, there are problems in getting a travel visa.”
Hospitals that attract patients where the state pays for them have seen their business collapse from the region. Artemis Hospital had substantial numbers paid for by the Iraqi government, and at least for the time being, that business has fallen off.
Several Indian hospitals were used to sending doctors to these countries to offer consultations to potential patients and act as medical tourism ambassadors. But visa restrictions and security concerns in the region have forced them to stop sending Indian doctors to any of these countries. Fortis hospital confirms that consultations of doctors in the region stopped from the first week of June.