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Med­i­cal tourism: Why In­dia be­com­ing pre­ferred destination for Omani citizens? – The Arabian Stories News

MUSCAT: From the year 2000 to 2008, most of the Omani patients preferred travelling to Thailand and Iran, while India descended to third or fourth option for medical treatments.Over the years, Oman has achieved many milestones in the health sector, including setting-up world-class health facilities and hospitals. 

However, there were drawbacks in terms of addressing serious health issues such as a backlog in the waiting period, and this prompted the Omanis to travel abroad for treatment. 

Countries like Iran, Thailand and European countries like Germany, became their preferred medical tourism destinations. For Omanis the choice to travelling to India for medical treatments was restricted to hospitals in only Mumbai and Chennai. 

It was during 2013, Lijihas Hussain, a Muscat resident, who is also a dynamic entrepreneur, with success in handling large events, exhibitions and roadshows singlehandedly took up the challenging task of organizing medical tourism events, promoting India as a key destination for Omani citizens. Through regular events and exhibitions, India soon became the most sought-after healthcare destination for Omanis. “The FICCI ( Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry ) conducted its first ever Medical Tourism show in 2014, but we did it in 2013,” Lijihas said. 

In 2014, the first FICCI show was held in Muscat, on April 11,12 at Crowne Plaza, which saw Lijihas and his team coordinating and organising essential services for the event that was inaugurated by the Minister of Health, Sultanate of Oman.

“We do appreciate the commitment, effort and services provided by Lijihas, who initiated medical tourism exhibitions in Oman.  Our participation in these events commenced from  2013. Those days we were only a part of some of the events as the main focus was for Iran and Thailand, including Representation from Germany and Malaysia,” said Dr Jaseela, the Managing Director of Punarnava Ayurveda. 

“Gradually it was grown and now there are a lot of participants from India, offering more advanced and specialized health care solutions. Hence, it changed the Omani national’s perspective and now India is considered as the most preferred market for medical destinations for Omanis,” Dr. Jaseela added. 

How it all happened: 

The first-ever official delegation from India came to Oman in 2008. Global Hospital was the main player from India with tie-ups and arrangements with Sultan Qaboos University. “In 2011, there was a delegation headed by CII, Tamilnadu chapter. We organized B2B and hospital visits to understand the market scenario. Both delegations were coordinated by us,” Lijihas recalled. 

“In 2013, we took up the India Pavilion of International Medical show, organized by Mr. Eyad. We roped in 12 hospitals from India. Medantha from Delhi, RG Stone, Punarnawa, were major players. Medanta made arrangements with the local Hayat clinic during their first visit to Muscat. In 2014 we made the same arrangements with the International Medical show bringing several hospitals, Ayurveda centers from India,” he said. 

“Commercial benefits were limited yet as a passion to promote India, we took the initiative and promoted this show in Oman,” Lijihas said. 

“Success led us on to step up our efforts further and in the 2018 show, CII agreed to come with an official delegation, and the turnout resulting in more than 66 participants from India. The Embassy of India, Oman hosted B2Bs at the embassy premises. It was a mind-opening event for everyone and it helped a lot of Indian hospitals. That was one of the best shows ever,” he said. 

Today, almost 2 million patients visit India each year from Middle East and Africa, generating $4 billion in annual forex each year. The government is pulling out all stops to make India the No.1 Destination for Medical Tourism in the world, tripling it to $12 billion within 4 years. 

“The success of our shows changed the mindset of Oman health organizers. They made sure that a separate pavilion is held for Indian hospitals in these medical tourism events and gradually India became the most preferred destination for Omanis,” he said. 

The farsighted vision of Lijihas who joined hands with Oman health is considered to be the architect of Indian medical exhibitions in Oman. “For this year’s health exhibition, we have got a good number of hospital teams from India,” he said. 

Lijihas was invited to almost all medical tourism shows organised in India and Dubai and visited as a delegate namely in the events held by FICCI in Bangalore and Delhi. 

“Over the years, I have attended the World Ayurveda Congress, Global Ayurveda Congress, Ayush 2018, Dubai, CII’s Kerala Health Tourism shows held in Calicut, Cochin and the Kerala travel mart,” he noted. 

“Oman is a great place for events and exhibitions and has great potential too. In the coming years, we are bringing in some of the best medical, property-related events to Muscat,” he added. 

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