14:54 GMT02 August 2021
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    Until 2016, Pakistan had been the most favoured destination for Afghan medical tourists due to cultural and linguistic similarities but according to media reports, the country has been losing medical tourism by Afghans to India over the last few years due to a shift in its border management policy.

    According to a report in the Indian daily The Tribune, Pakistan's ministry of commerce has informed the Parliament that the country's tourism sector has suffered a considerable setback in the last few years as patients from Afghanistan who earlier preferred Pakistani hospitals for treatment are now flocking to India instead.

    Afghan citizens are finding it difficult to get a visa to Pakistan, since Islamabad changed its border management policy in 2016. Tougher security screening at border checkpoints and the provision of compulsory reporting to Pakistani police about the duration of stay in the country have also proved disadvantageous. 

    READ MORE: US-Taliban Talks on Afghanistan Prompt Indian, Russian Officials Meet in Delhi

    The rising cost of treatment and unavailability of enough specialists is also discouraging Afghans from seeking treatment in Pakistan. 

    Indian doctors have confirmed the increase in the flow of Afghan nationals coming to their hospitals for medical treatment. Noida, Delhi, and Gurugram are the major destinations in India where Afghan nationals come for medical treatment.  

    "Afghan nationals are increasingly coming here for medical treatment. There are various factors. The foremost is the Afghan-India friendship and trust. Further, they get world class medical facilities at a very low cost here. We offer special services to international patients including patients from Afghanistan for hassle free end to end care. We provide them with easy and fast appointments, visa assistance, pick and drop facility from/to the airport. These are the factors, which instill trust and reliability among the Afghan patients", Dr Rashmi Gupta, renowned pediatrician and director of Noida-based Felix Hospital told Sputnik.

    Indian cardiologist Dr K.K.Aggarwal also admits that for the past few years, Afghan nationals have been coming to India, especially to Delhi, Noida, and Gurugram for medical treatment.

    "India is providing the hospitality, assistance, treatment, assistance, language translation, the state-of-art treatment which is cost effective. They come here for knee transplant, bypass surgery, valve surgery, stenting, eye surgery etc", Dr K.K. Aggarwal, President of the Heart Care Foundation of India and former president of the Indian Medical Association told Sputnik.

    The government of India is also providing medical visas on arrival. India's tourism, health, and industry ministries are promoting medical tourism, he added.


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