Tamil Nadu has emerged as the preferred destination for Medical Tourism in India, with the Government patronizing the improvement of Health Care Services in the State.

The State Government has been upgrading facilities in Government hospitals equal to the Private hospitals to extend health care. Expensive liver and heart transplant surgeries are now being performed at the Stanley and the Madras Medical College hospitals free of cost.

Tamil Nadu is now being looked up to for its affordable and quality health care services and even foreigners are coming here for treatments.

The government has sanctioned Rs. 600 crore for purchase of equipment in Government hospitals. It has sanctioned the establishment of digital X-ray units in 40 Medical College and Government hospitals in the State. Ten have already been established and the remaining would start functioning soon.

The government has also decided to set up Neo-Natal wards in all District Headquarter hospitals and the first was opened in Trichy. Construction was underway in the hospitals, and the wards would start functioning in 10 district hospitals next month.

Similarly, all district Headquarter Government hospitals would also be provided with MRI scans and the equipment has been provided to Government Medical College hospitals already.

Prompt measures undertaken by the Government to control the spread of diseases such as the AH1N1 influenza ensured that the State stood in the forefront in preventing loss of human lives due to such new diseases.

Appealing to Government Doctors and Para-medics to discharge their duties sincerely and efficiently, Government had enacted the Hospital Protection Act to protect their interests. The salaries of Government Doctors and stipend of house surgeons have also been increased by the government.

The Annal Gandhi Government Hospital would be upgraded soon and Rs. 50 crore would be sanctioned in the first phase for infrastructure development at the hospital.

A new six-storey building would be built utilising the first installment of funds. Ten super-speciality wards, each with 30 beds, would be established at the new building, which would have a total floor area of about 8,000 square metres

This announcement comes in the wake of long pending demand from the city residents for upgrading the hospital, which turned into a public movement after a project to upgrade the hospital on par with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences by the Union government was mooted a few years back.

The Digital X-ray unit at the hospital has been set up at a cost of Rs.1 crore and Rs.12.12 lakhs has been spent for the renovated Neo Natal ward. About Rs. 25 lakhs worth of equipment are to be provided to the Neo Natal ward. The establishment of the 24×7 neo natal ward was intended to bring down the mortality rate of newborns.

Chennai attracts about 40% of the Country’s Medical tourists and more than six lakh tourists visit the state every year, according to a study by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).

The inflow of Medical Tourists to India has increased by 23%, with Chennai continuing to be the favourite destination, said CII officials.

“The city receives up to 200 foreign patients every day owing to the quality of Healthcare”, said the Convener of the CII healthcare panel, at the International Conference and exhibition on Health tourism in Chennai Trade Centre.

Around 8.5 lakh tourists visited India in 2011 for treatment. It increased to 1.1 million. Through a two-day expo, CII and Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation hoped to give a fillip to Tamil Nadu as a preferred Medical Tourism destination.

The State produces the maximum number of Doctors and Paramedics in the country. Many tourists from the Middle-east, Africa, South and Southeast Asia come to Tamil Nadu every year.

The government plans to build a ‘medicity’ with Public-Private partnership under the vision 2023 programme, which will expand the scope of Medical Tourism in the state.

Government support and accreditation of both hospitals and alternative medical practices could make the state the most sought-after destination for Medical tourism.