Bangladesh a key source market for medical tourism
There are some countries which largely depend on Bangladesh for medical tourists and selling health service related equipment, experts said yesterday.
To cash in on the growing demand from Bangladesh's rising mid-income people, some hospitals of India, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia have either opened their liaison offices or hooked clients through their consultants in Bangladesh, they said.
They were addressing the opening of three exhibitions—11th Meditex Bangladesh, International Health Tourism and Services Expo and 4th Bangladesh Clinical Lab Expo— organised by CEMS Global at International Convention City Bashundhara.
"On an average 1,000 Bangladeshis go to India daily to take treatment," Padam Vanish, director of Indian consultancy firm VAP Global, said after opening the shows. Some 120 companies from 18 countries, including Japan, Korea, Germany, China, Taiwan, Italy and France, have set up 170 stalls in the fairs.
Most of the people have no idea about the hospitals and doctors they need to meet in India for treatment, Vanish said.
"For this reason, we opened an office in Dhaka three months ago to provide Bangladeshis with information."
"On an average 100 people visit our Dhaka office every day to know about hospitals and doctors in India," Vanish said.
VAP Global has already established connections with around 80 hospitals in India, where it refers patients and talks on behalf of them, he said.
Apollo Hospitals of India has opened its local office in Dhaka to provide services to Bangladeshi patients who want to go to its medical institute in Chennai.
Noerita Mahmood Farin, customer relationship officer of Health Connect at Apollo Hospitals India, said around 150 patients come to their office everyday to get information about treatment and appointment of physicians in India.
A recent report on health services found that one in every three foreign patients in Indian hospitals hailed from Bangladesh.
Rahbar A Anwar, managing director of NCH Consumer Healthcare Ltd, said Bangladeshis going to Malaysia for treatment is a new trend.
"Now Malaysia gets on an average 10,000 medical tourists every year," said Anwar. He claimed medical cost in Malaysia is quite cheaper than that of Thailand and Singapore.
Mid-income people prefer India and higher mid-income people prefer Thailand and Singapore, he said.
Earlier, Zahid Maleque, state minister for health and family welfare, asked doctors, hospitals and lab owners to stop harassing patients in the name of diagnosis.
"I request medical businesses to reduce costs and make it reasonable for all," he said.
The state minister said private hospitals should import sophisticated medical equipment to identify diseases correctly and ensure quality treatment.
The opening ceremony was presided over by Mehrun N Islam, managing director of CEMS Global. Lawmaker Salima Begum and Priti Chakrabarty, director of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, were also present.