`India does not represent cheap healthcare`

Obama`s remarks on cheap health care in India drew sharp reaction here with govt & medical fraternity.

Updated: Apr 21, 2011, 13:49 PM IST

Mumbai: A top Indian doctor has termed as "misconception" US President Barack Obama`s statement that India represents "cheap healthcare".

In a statement issued here late Wednesday, well-known heart surgeon Ramakant Panda said that in today`s age it`s a misconception to say that India represents cheap healthcare.

"Our medicos, in various fields, compete with the best in the world and India as a country represents high quality and not cheap healthcare," Panda noted.

Panda, the head of the Asian Heart Institute here, was reacting to Obama`s statement Wednesday near Washington discouraging US citizens from visiting India or Mexico to get "cheap healthcare".

Describing medicare as "one of the most important pillars of our social safety net", the US president said: "My preference would be that you don`t have to travel to Mexico or India to get cheap healthcare."

Panda, who shot to national fame after he successfully operated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh two years ago, pointed out that presently the Middle East and Africa constitute a bulk of patients who travel to India for medical purposes.

"The number of patients coming to India from the US is less than five percent. While there is potential for (more) US patients to come to India, we do not foresee a reduction in actual numbers with this initiative from President Obama," Panda said.

Panda said that it is easy to divide the dollar and arrive at the rupee value of a medical procedure. "That`s very basic arithmetic. However, the notion that India delivers cheap healthcare is not to be encouraged," he said.