“Medical Value Travel (MVT) plays a crucial role in eliminating healthcare disparities across the globe and through the 1st Health Working Group meeting, G20 India Presidency aims to provide an impetus to create pathways to bridge this gap.”This was stated by Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog on the closing day of the three day meeting of the Health Working Group of G20 India, at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, today. He added that “Medical Value Travel could be focused on maintaining, improving or restoring health through medical intervention”.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Paul stated that “there is a great opportunity for utilizing traditional medical practices like Ayurveda in Medical Value Travel sector which is witnessing a combined annual growth rate of over 23%”. At the same time, he also elaborated on the need to build a resilient and sustainable MVT framework. He stated that Medical Value Travel could be focused on maintaining, improving or restoring health through medical intervention instead of the common parlance of visiting another country to seek medication. “It can be achieved by providing access to quality and cost-effective medical care, transparent pricing, seamless travel to medical value travel destinations, attainment of Universal Health Coverage and ensuring low waiting time for medical treatment”, he pointed out.
Dr Paul also highlighted four key enablers to achieve Universal Health Coverage which includes incorporating digitization and technology advancements; renewing focus on holistic healing through integrated healthcare offerings; ensuring effective quality assurance through regulation, standardization, accreditation and streamlining of institutional procedures; and forming partnerships among stakeholders for convergence of health, hospitality and travel services.
Emphasizing strengthening ecosystem for Medical Value Travel, Dr Paul underscored the need for effective governance and policy framework, including setting up of dedicated board and agency for Medical Value Travel. He stressed on the need for developing standards and accreditation for healthcare facilities and Medical Travel Facilitators and called for enabling digitization in the Medical Value Travel segment. He further highlighted the need for ensuring availability of medical insurance portability and coverage of traditional systems of medicine under insurance policies at the international level, enhancing accessibility and patient experience through a liberalised visa policy and improved air connectivity and capacity building of healthcare enterprises and staff.
Dr Paul emphasized that to enhance the attractiveness of a destination, it is important to create an ecosystem of quality, affordability, expertise in healthcare services, low waiting time for treatment, ease of communication, incorporation of technological advancements and ensure medical insurance availability. In this regard, he urged the G20 member countries to make synergized efforts towards achieving universal health coverage, form sustainable collaborations between govt, industry, academia and experts to make healthcare and wellness services accessible, improve utilization of available resources across the globe and create resilient Medical Value Travel ecosystem to ensure equitable access to affordable and quality healthcare without financial hardships to people across national borders.
Focusing on India’s efforts and vision, Dr. V K Paul said that “Government of India will be launching “Heal in India” initiative to leverage its healthcare services for international patients, “Heal by India” initiative to send out healthcare workforce to other countries. He also emphasized on the huge strength of India in telemedicine sector which could pave the way for “Heal from India” initiative.
Panelists emphasised on critical knowledge sharing, cross-border collaborations, multi-sectoral partnerships at regional and global level along with partnerships at G2G, B2G, B2B and B2C levels. Stakeholders also spoke about creating vibrant and robust global regulatory networks. On the grassroot level, they underlined the need for a strong collaboration between traditional medical providers and educational institutions in the development of training programs. Importance of insurance, clinical trials, Research & Development and most importantly standardisation was articulated. Member countries appreciated India’s approach towards integrated and comprehensive healthcare services. They lauded interventions like patient centric treatment and offering mental health solutions with ancient practices.
Shri Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH, Shri Lav Agarwal, Additional Secretary, Health Ministry, Shri Vishal Chauhan, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, representatives from the G20 member countries, special invitee countries, international organizations, forums and partners like WHO, World Bank, WEF etc., and senior officers of the Union Government were present.