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Times of India
24 November 2010
By Mathang Seshagiri & Jayashree Nandi
Bangalore, India

They Take a Dreak From Their Schedule Abroad to Train, Perform Surgeries in India
Medical tourism is old hat. Now, foreign doctors visiting India is a growing trend. As many as 48 (almost three a month) international doctors who registered with the Karnataka Medical Council in 2010, visit hospitals in Bangalore.

Foreign Doctors Plump For City Hospitals
These doctors, who come from various countries including smaller ones like Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia, stay here for a few months to a year to perform surgeries together or even to train themselves. As per KMC records, the trend is on the rise. In 2008, 27 international doctors came to India, and in 2009, their number rose to 41.

In 2008, for instance, doctors from US, Bangladesh, France, Japan, Belgium, Iran and Baghdad visited city hospitals for a period of one to three months. Most of these doctors worked at Manipal Hospital, St John’s Hospital, Narayana Hrudayalaya, Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health and even Basaveshwara Medical College at Chitradurga.

Six of them trained and demonstrated on paediatric cardiology cases, while others worked in the dermatology, emergency medicine, gynaecology and even the HIV and dermatovenerealogy departments.

Paediatric Cases Draw Doctors
In 2009, along with these hospitals, some also came to Kidwai Institute of Oncology, Sagar Hospital, Lion’s Eye Hospital and BGS Hospital. Many from UK came to Sparsh Hospital to perform paediatric orthopaedic surgeries.

In 2010, 48 doctors from US, Italy, Canada, Romania, Switzerland, Germany, Sri Lanka, US, Mexico, Azerbaijan, UK, Korea and a few from other parts of India came to Bangalore. Most of them came for paediatric surgeries and orthopaedic knee replacement surgeries. This time, hospitals like Jayadeva Institute of Cardiology, Mahaveer Jain Hospital, Narayana Nethralaya and Bangalore Medical College also hosted them.

According to the council, these doctors did not come for any monetary gain and stayed here for short spans. This year, the highest number of doctors visited Sparsh Hospital to perform surgeries during their charity event.

A very high number came to Narayana Hrudayalaya for paediatric cardiac surgeries. According to doctors, they take a break from their regular schedule of work in their countries to come here and experience surgeries in India. "Most of them come for training or to observe because we do huge volumes of surgeries. Some of them come on elective posting after finishing medical degrees.

They are usually not paid anything for coming and they pay their way for travel too," said academic director, Narayana Hrudayalaya, Dr Kanchi Muralidhar.

Charity Events Bring in Nri Doctors
At Sparsh Hospital, which organizes charity mass surgery events frequently, many Indian doctors living abroad take the opportunity to offer their services to Indian patients.

"Both Western doctors and Indian doctors abroad in very senior positions have come to our hospital to operate on temporary licenses. They look at it as an opportunity to do surgeries for charity. We had close to around 20 very senior doctors from several parts who performed surgeries for underprivileged children during ‘Sparsh Vachana’. Some also came for the ‘guru namana’ programme, during which we did knee replacement surgeries for retired teachers.

They enjoy the experience, and come again and again at their own expense," said Dr Sharan Patil. He said such charity events will help India upgrade its medical services quickly to worldclass standards. Around 12 doctors also came to Sparsh Hospital this year for elective posting.

Work Licences
While these observers only get registered with KMC, many also take temporary work licenses from KMC to work with senior doctors in hospitals.

"Around 20% of international doctors come here with temporary work licenses, that allow them to work closely with our senior doctors. The rest only observe. They are not allowed to touch or treat Indian patients. Usually, they come for three to six months.

If the country is willing to sponsor, then we have seen some doctors staying for a year with all expenses managed by the government," said COO of Manipal Hospital, Dr Nagendra Swamy. He also added that the number of international doctors is far higher in Chennai and Bangalore, because of the expertise available here and a safer living environment in these cities.

At Entry Point
Karnataka Medical Council, the statutory body under the Karnataka Act no 34 of 1961, registers every foreign doctor before they visit hospitals here. The doctors have to pay Rs 1,000 and submit proof of their passport, visa, education certificate, inviting the hospital’s declaration that they have come only for observation and not monetary gain. They have to pay Rs 1,000 after every three months for extension.

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