Ayurveda has its roots in India from the very ancient times. India and Ayurveda has a history that longs back in time. India has always been a favourite spot when it comes to Ayurveda treatments, cultural wellness or naturopathy. And with the government of India taking initiatives like Ayush Visa, to help the people from all over the world to be able to avail these treatments, the future of medical tourism industry in India shines bright. Danish Ahmed, founder of healthtrip.com shares some insights on the emergence of Ayurveda as an alternative medicine, government initiatives, what initiatives his health travel company has taken and what the future holds for the medical tourism industry. Excerpts:
How is Ayurveda emerging as an alternative medicine? Specific treatments where Ayurveda treatment have been availed primarily.
Ayurveda means the ‘science of life’. ‘Ayuh (r)’ meaning life and ‘Veda’ as science. With its roots in India, Ayurveda is an old life system surviving for years and years in the world. Ayurveda has become a very effective treatment in 3 cases.
Lifestyle diseases – Diseases such as kidney issues, diabetes, joint pain which are caused due to poor diet and lifestyle have the most effective treatments in Ayurveda, which focuses on rebalancing the hormonal disturbance through medicines that affect the root cause and avoid any side effects.
Pre-medical, such as in case of infertility where Ayurveda treatment significantly increases the success rates of IVF treatments done after it.
Post-medical, such as after chemotherapy, orthopaedic surgeries, rehab etc.
When we think of natural medicine, India tops the list. India is a hot spot for medical tourists seeking Ayurveda treatment.
Also Read | Here’s how India is shaping the future of medical tourism
What is the government’s initiative in this direction? Please tell us more about Ayush visa.
The government has taken multiple initiatives in this direction including NABH certification of these institutes, which creates a very valuable layer of trust. Additionally, with the introduction of Ayush Visa, patients will be able to get fast and long term visas for their Ayush treatments. This initiative will boost the medical tourism in the country which is almost an $80 billion industry. Ayush visa is an initiative under the AYUSH programme where traditional medicines and healing practices will be encouraged. Practitioners of both modern medicines and AYUSH are expected to work together to make India the preferred Medical Value Travel destination. Through this visa programme, overseas patients can visit India on an Ayush Visa and seek various medical treatments that India has to offer. India is a hub for AYUSH medicines which include practices of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy.
How many centres across India will be offering Ayurveda treatments?
There are currently 500 NABH certified Ayurveda treatment centres in India. These offer a variety of Ayurveda and Therapeutic treatments. Most of these centres are in Kerala and Uttarkhand which are emerging as the top Wellness Hotspots in Asia, due to the natural beauty, millennial of learning and availability of therapeutic plants in these regions.
Which states will be primarily inducing such centres?
Uttarakhand and Kerala are foremost in Ayurveda treatments. Other states such as UP, Karnataka, J&K, Orissa, Karnataka and Maharashtra are rapidly increasing their footprint in Ayurveda centres. The Ayush initiative will also boost the tourism in India on a state level.
How many foreign tourists seek Ayurveda treatments in India annually?
The exact number of foreign visitors seeking such treatments is difficult to get with certainty, however, it is estimated that the sector generates $2 billion annually from international patients.
India’s medical tourism industry was expected to be worth $9bn in 2020, according to industry body the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Last year, the country ranked 10th in the world, in the Medical Tourism Index compiled by the Medical Tourism Association.
The country has almost 600 globally and nationally accredited hospitals that provide world-class treatment.
How will it contribute to the growth of the medical tourism in India?
Ayurveda is unique to India and presents us the opportunity to become a global leader in the $400 billion wellness tourism industry (5x larger than medical tourism), which is increasing attracting a larger, pro-health, aging population across the world.
According to a report by Research and Information System for Developing Countries, AYUSH has seen its market size grow by 17 per cent between 2014 and 2020 to reach 18.1 billion dollars.
According to the report, the AYUSH industry was projected to reach 20.6 billion dollars in 2021 and 23.3 billion dollars in 2022. These statistics speaks for itself in its contribution in the growth of medical tourism in India.
Healthtrip has partnered with 50 Ayush centres to cater to the medical travellers, how will this be helpful?
Healthtrip is aggressively marketing Ayurveda medical tourism to offer these unique treatments to patients around the world, especially from the Middle East & Europe. We are also partnering with these clinics to take their doctors abroad for wellness weeks in key markets.
How many more of such centres are in pipeline?
We are currently focussing on deepening our business with the existing network of wellness clinics, which represent the top tier of wellness clinics in India, across various price points.
What major role does Healthtrip play in this initiative?
Healthtrip plays a critical role in helping people discover these clinics, understand the treatments being offered by them, their advantage over other treatments or how they complement other treatments, and facilitating the journey to avail these treatments.