The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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City on health biz overdrive

Calcutta, Aug. 3: Noor Fatima set the trend. Now, industry chambers in the city are planning to cash in.

The media attention over the successful heart operation of the two-and-a-half-year old Pakistani girl in Bangalore has opened up a huge business potential in healthcare services.

The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) have decided to showcase “new-generation” health facilities of Calcutta in neighbouring Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and even Thailand. The move is aimed at preventing the flow of patients from here to south India, Mumbai and Delhi.

The chambers have already begun charting a roadmap to market the facilities available in the city.

Healthcare is a $3 trillion industry worldwide. “Calcutta has the potential to become a hub for health tourism. Over the past decade or so, a number of hospitals with international-quality services have come up. If the city’s potential is properly marketed, in the country as well as in the neighbouring nations, health can emerge as one of the best businesses here,” said Sanjay Budhia, the eastern regional chairman of the CII.

The confederation has decided to hold a two-day roadshow in Dhaka involving all the major hospitals in the city. Similar roadshows will be organised in other countries over the next two years.

“In Dhaka, we will organise an exhibition, seminars and interactions with the local doctors and patients. We are expecting the state government to be with us,” said Budhia.

The Bengal Chamber of Commerce is planning an international symposium on healthcare facilities in November to showcase Calcutta’s potential.

The president of the chamber, Sumit Majumdar, said they have set up a health subcommittee that is preparing a report on the business potential of the healthcare services, the largest growing industry worldwide.

“The private sector super speciality hospitals in Calcutta can compete with the best in the world. But only the quality of hospitals is not the factor that should be addressed to. Other infrastructure like hotels, roads, transport services and overall security of the patients and their attendants need to be looked into,” said Majumdar.

Health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra said private hospitals have to market themselves. “But whatever help these hospitals need from the government, that can be provided,” he added.

B.M. Birla Heart Research Centre administrator Amit De said the city used to host a large number of patients from Bangladesh and Bhutan. “But of late, many of them are heading south.”

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