Monday, April 22, 2013

Indian doctors come courting with health diplomacy

Surgeons at the Kenyatta National Hospital during a kidney transplant operation. Indian surgeons are enticing Kenyans to seek cheaper and better medical operations in India. PHOTO / JENNIFER MUIRURI

Surgeons at the Kenyatta National Hospital during a kidney transplant operation. Indian surgeons are enticing Kenyans to seek cheaper and better medical operations in India. PHOTO / JENNIFER MUIRURI 

By AGGREY MUTAMBO [email protected]

Indian doctors are flocking town to lure Kenyans to a different kind of tourism in their country.

At a Kenya Paediatric Conference in Mombasa, doctors from India presented their case to Kenyans arguing their medical surgeries are affordable, the most comfortable and the best in the world.

Prof Anupam Sibal, a paediatric gastroenterologist at India’s Apollo Hospital, told the gathering that India stands as the best option for Kenyans seeking medical care abroad because “our success rate is 90 per cent.”

“People come to us because they want to live. Life is precious, and they get value for their money. It is a value proposition that India offers: the best-quality-low-cost,” he said.

“As Indian doctors, we work hard to make the stay of the patient comfortable. We help them get visa, organize their travel, guest house before admission and refer them to a doctor in Kenya after the operation to be looked at.”

India has been the preferred destination for most Kenyans seeking advanced medical care abroad especially for kidney ailments.

The country is now pegging its relations with Kenya and other African country on what the Indian medic called “health diplomacy.”

At the moment, India is running a campaign called ‘Incredible India’ to boost its image as the best and cheapest medicare provider.

Last week, the Indian doctors were in Mombasa to argue their case as the cheapest experts in liver transplant.

“We became the busiest liver transplants in the world with 1200 transplants alone in 2012. But the number from Kenya is still low, perhaps because of lack of awareness,” Prof Sibal who was the head of the delegation told the Nation in an interview.

“In the last week alone, we did 10 liver transplants. As you get busier, your success rate improves. Success rate is 90 per cent,” he said.

The liver, unlike the kidney, does not require a donor to give the entire organ. And for $55000 (or $35,000 for children), one can get a part of the donor’s liver transplanted to them.

“The liver is an amazing organ that regenerates. If you take a part of the liver, it would regrow in two weeks,” he said.

Prof Sibal argues this is cheaper compared to other countries like Singapore or England.

“We understand that even this figure we are offering is expensive, but compare that to others and you will realise that we are the best.”

Apollo hospitals for instance have 54 branches around India with about 9,000 beds. The hospital prides itself as pioneers of liver transplantation.

Between December and last month, it received about 120 patients from Kenya, 55 of them were seeking kidney transplantations.

But now, the hospitals are collaborating with the entire medical sector and their government to market liver transplantation as a life saviour.

The Indian High Commission in Nairobi issues medical visas within three days although special cases can be dealt with faster.

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