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Posted on 23 April 2011

India ridicules Obama’s comment on cheap medical care

The Indian medical community is confident of coping with hostile American perception

Avesta Choudhary
New Delhi

Dr Pradeep Chowbey

Dr Naresh Trehan

Taking American protec­tionism to new heights, US President Barack Obama sought to garner support for his healthcare plan by brand­ing Indian healthcare system as cheap. Obama, who pre­viously targeted the Indian outsourcing industry dur­ing his election campaign, took the swipe at the Indian medical industry while urg­ing Americans to prefer high-quality American healthcare over what is offered in India and Mexico.

While the Indian govern­ment expressed shock at Obama’s statement, the med­ical community is equally dismayed.

Renowned cardiologist Dr Naresh Trehan, who also heads the Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon, felt that Obama’s statement is political postur­ing. He said, “Obama made a political statement. He has been promising better and affordable healthcare facil­ity to the people of America but has not been able to do so for a long time now.” Dr Trehan believes that it is the frustration of not being able to do anything in healthcare for a long time which comes across through the statement made by Obama.


The Philosopher King, Almost
Your pills, your food, your doctor, your water they are all under attack
In the land of dollars and desolation

Dr Pranav Mishra, a doc­tor of the Indian origin in Alabama the US, said, “At present health insurance in America is very expensive, and people without a good job cannot afford to buy it.” When asked about the rea­sons why Americans come to India for healthcare, he said, “The reason is purely economical. No country can match the skills and facili­ties of American hospitals. If I need medical care, I would prefer to have it in an Ameri­can hospital.”

Dr Pradeep Chowbey, the director of Max Institute of Minimal Access, who treats patients from outside India regularly, said, “The health­care facilities in India are at par with the facilities avail­able in developed countries. In fact, Indian doctors and surgeons are more experi­enced, efficient and caring for the patients and easily ap­proachable.”

Dr Pradeep Chowbey
"The health­care facilities in India are at par with the facilities avail­able in developed countries."

A senior official from the Apollo Hospitals Group re­sponded to Obama’s state­ment, saying, “The medical-travel sector in India is poised for greater growth. The Apol­lo Hospitals offer care of an outstanding standard and clinical quality, benchmarked with global standards, all at a fraction of the cost of hospi­tals in the United States and other Western nations. It has been this compelling combi­nation of factors, which has attracted patients from over 55 countries to our hospitals.”

Dr Naresh Trehan
"Obama made a political
statement. He's been promising
better facilities."

Shobha Mishra, a director with the industry lobby group FICCI, dismissed the im­pact of any US policy change, “Even if the policy is imple­mented, I don’t think it is going to have any visible im­pact in the immediate future. Most of our health tourism comes from either NRIs or Middle-eastern countries or African nationals. The NRIs will anyway prefer coming to India, as our healthcare facil­ities are at par with the world standards.” She also felt that such patients prefer to be treated at a place which feels closer to home. "Most Middle East and African nationals prefer India as a healthcare destination due to cultural proximity," she added.

Avesta Choudhary is a Correspondent with Tehelka.com

[email protected]

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Posted on 23 April 2011



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