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Medical tourism in Gurugram hit by Afghan crisis, Covid

By NS Desk | CoronaVirus Updates | Posted on :   18-Aug-2021

Gurugram, Aug 18 (IANS) The ongoing political unrest in Afghanistan and the Covid-19 pandemic have had a huge economical impact on Gurugram's medical tourism.

Prominent hospitals in Gurugram have claimed that a huge dip in admission of foreign nationals have been witnessed due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, while the latest political tussle in Afghanistan will also have a huge impact on medical tourism in Gurugram.

Hospital managements are claiming that due to the current unrest in Afghanistan, they are not getting any new Afgan patient and even the few who were admitted to their facilities were discharged a week ago.

"Before the pandemic, around 40 to 50 patients from Afghanistan used to get admitted to our hospital with diverse health issues. However, during the current pandemic, this number has significantly come down to about 10-15. But ever since the political turmoil began in Afghanistan, we have not received any new patient from the country," Amit Bhura, Facility Director, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram, told IANS.

Sources in the hospitals said that in India, foreign nationals get quality medical facilities at a cheaper rate as compared to the US and other developed nations, for which several patients, including from Afghanistan, visit the country regularly.

"Currently, we don't have any patient from Afghanistan. We do get many patients from Afghanistan but owing to Covid, the numbers dipped from 33 per cent last year to 16 per cent till the beginning of August," Sameer Kulkarni, Regional Director, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram, told IANS.

Medical tourists from Bangladesh, Iraq, Afghanistan, Maldives and African nations visit Gurugram's hospitals for better healthcare facilities.

For the Afghans, India is a cheap healthcare destination where hospitals offer quality treatment at reasonable rates.

The present Covid-19 pandemic has already impacted medical tourists' footfalls and now the political instability in the war-torn Afghanistan is hurting medical tourism further.

"Over the last decade, Indian hospitals have witnessed a significant inflow of patients from Afghanistan and adjoining countries, who sought medical treatment and care available in India. Fortis has treated Afghan patients for different ailments, and some have even undergone organ transplants. But since the past year, medical tourism in India has come to a complete halt due to the pandemic and restrictions on commercial flight movements," said Anil Vinayak, Group COO, Fortis Healthcare Ltd.

"However, from June 2021 onwards, we were seeing initial signs of recovery and patients from middle eastern countries and Afghanistan had gradually started to come to our hospitals," he said.

"There is already a dip in the footfall of patients arriving from overseas. At present, the hospital doesn't have any patient from Afghanistan. Also, it is early to say that the ongoing political unrest would affect the footfall of patients coming from Afghanistan," said the spokesperson of a city-based private hospital.

"Once the situation stabilises, we are hopeful that patients will be able to travel for medical assistance to India," he added.

Apart from this, Afgan nationals who were staying in Gurugram as PG and in guest houses located in Sector 38 or its adjoining areas have also left for Lajpat Nagar in Delhi, which houses a significant Afghan population.

"Afghan nationals who used to live in Gurugram to look after the patients have left for Lajpat Nagar in the national capital as several Afgan nationals live there. They were in tension and were worried about their relatives in Afghanistan," a PG operator told IANS, requesting anonymity.

--IANS

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NS Desk

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