Canadians are increasingly looking to India for timely medical treatment as wait periods under the country's public health system get longer. Many are saying they would recommend India to anyone seeking "world-class health care" at a small cost.
At this week's conference on medical tourism to India in Toronto, Canadians who benefited from medical treatment – heart operation, spine surgery or knee transplant – in India sang praises of the Indian healthcare system.
Narrating their experiences at the three-day "India: Medical Tourism Destination 2009" conference, they lauded Indian hospitals, doctors and after-care as among "the very best in the world".
Said Doug Antoniak, who has just returned from India after a successful spine surgery: "I would recommend India to anyone in a heart-beat. Indian doctors have changed my life for the better."
He said: "I had two failed surgeries in Canada, but my pain didn't go. It was getting worse all the time."
Then he and his wife Cathy watched someone on television narrating his successful spine surgery in India in 2007.
"This guy was Jeff Clarke. His television appearance assured me about the quality of the Indian healthcare system," he said.
Soon, the Canadian couple landed at Apollo Hospital
"The Indian surgeons put rods and discs in my back. But because I had been having this problem since 1988, the first surgery didn't help much. This year, they again put more rods to stabilize my condition. I am much, much better," said the middle-aged Canadian from Waterloo near Toronto.
The couple paid $40,000 for the surgery, airfare, five-star accommodation and 45-day after-care.
"Had we gone to the US, it would have cost us $250,000. We got world-class medical care for a lot less. I will go to India in a minute," said Antoniak's wife Cathy.
"We want to tell people in North America that medical treatment in India is not only timely but also very cost-effective," said Dr Narottam Puri, who represented Fortis group at the conference.
Added Pradeep Thukral, executive director of the Indian Medical Travel Association: "Canadians will overcome the mental block as more and more of them go to India for a quick procedure (ortho, spine or cardiac)."
All major Indian hospitals, including Max, Fortis and Apoll, came here to woo Canadian patients. They also held talks with Canadian health institutions for collaboration in medical research.