GUWAHATI, June 11 - The rapidly growing healthcare sector in State capital Guwahati has gradually started to attract international patients from far-off countries, especially African nations.
From a place of primary healthcare centres, dispensaries and clinics, the city has now expanded itself into a hub of critical care and multi-speciality centres. Experts in the health sector attribute this emerging trend – which can be termed as the beginning of medical tourism in the region – to low-cost treatment, quality healthcare infrastructure and availability of skilled doctors.
“Healthcare facilities in Guwahati have improved tremendously in the past few years. Add to this the cost-effective nature of the treatment, we can look forward to a steady flow of foreign patients. We even inject a dose of conventional tourism to a patient’s itinerary by taking our patients in and around the destinations of Guwahati,” Dr Rahul Baruah of Baruah’s Healthcare Centre, Rajgarh, who has been facilitating treatment of overseas patients in different city hospitals, said.
Several patients from Nigeria have been treated in the city in the past one month, with more to come in the next few months, he added.
One such woman patient, Yawuro Maina Alkali Usman (70), successfully underwent a bilateral total knee replacement at a city hospital recently. She told The Assam Tribune that it took her three years to decide to go for the surgery but was completely satisfied with her treatment, as also her overall experience in the city.
“I was not sure if it would help and whether I could sustain the surgery. When I consulted Baruah’s Telemedicine Centre, things became clearer for me and I decided to go for the knee replacement surgery in Guwahati,” she said.
She added that after the surgery Baruah’s healthcare team was visiting her on a daily basis at her serviced apartment. “It was a satisfying experience for me, as all the nursing staff were also responsive to all my needs and requests,” she said.
Dr Baruah said that once the patients leave Assam, they will be able to do the follow-up from their homes through video consultation to their surgeons in Assam.
The patient’s son, Bilyaminul Usman, who is a college lecturer, was all praise for the people of Assam who he said were “very hospitable and gentle.”
“I am, in fact, keen to return to Assam as a tourist. This is a lovely place with warm-hearted people. And I simply loved the food here,” he said.
Another patient, Zainab Nasiru, a 17-year-old girl, successfully underwent an oral reconstruction surgery recently.
“She was suffering from a very rare genetic disease since birth, with her face and mouth getting extremely enlarged and deformed. She was not even able to talk or eat on her own. Later, the disease was turning life-threatening as her windpipe was getting blocked. She was successfully operated upon by a team of super-specialist surgeons here,” Dr Baruah said.
Dr Baruah said that his healthcare centre had set up the telemedicine centre in the city to provide video consultation to patients in remote areas and post-surgical follow-ups with the team of doctors.
“Guwahati will see a boom in medical tourism in the days ahead. We are facilitating and arranging the special needs of patients, friendly stay and treatment in the city. All legal and visa formalities are also looked after by us,” he said.
Post-treatment, international patients in the city have the opportunity to visit the tourist places of Assam. “Special tours are arranged for the patients to enable them to have a glimpse of Assamese culture and cuisine,” he said.