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Destination Kolkata.....

In the last eight years, Kolkata has seen a rise in the private hospitals scattered from Airport to Alipore.  Keeping at par with the rising IT scenario, the health sector has also bloomed from domestic standard to one of an international one. With improved standards of living, insurance companies, and corporate organisations paying for the health of employees, “destination health”, has shifted from reputed government hospitals to the private sector, among the community who can afford. There has been an upsurge from ‘general hospitals’ to ‘speciality hospitals’.

With a bunch of well-trained youngsters, who practice “evidence based medicine” coming back home from abroad or other parts of India, , the quality of healthcare has improved, both personnel and equipment wise. Even doctors from the other neighbouring states, are flocking into Kolkata, as there is ample scope of income with the upsurge in health sector.

Surely, these hospitals, which have blossomed in the last few years, are not running at a loss. They have invested a considerable amount of money both in building of its structure and equipment. So, has there been an increase in the number of patients? Surely, it must have – or else how will these hospitals cope. Kolkata is still one of the cheapest places to live in compared to other cities in India. As the affordability of Kolkata population is much less, compared to other cities in India, health cost both hospital and doctor wise, is relatively cheap. This has resulted in an influx of patients, both from abroad and other states in India. People from Bangladesh no longer flock to the south. They favour Kolkata as their preferred destination, right from less amount of travel, to quality of healthcare, to finding a cheap accommodation, to having food of their own taste, to communicating more easily in their preferred language. What Kolkata has failed to attract yet is the other Southeast Asian countries. The reason is purely a failure to provide the quality of service. From airport to hospital and back to airport –the whole sojourn has to be fully taken care of.

So, what happens to the health sector boom and the common person in the streets? How can we equate these two? No government can provide this expensive service free of cost. There has to be more insurance companies coming in the scene, and it is to ensure that anyone with any sort of income has insurance for health cover. In that case government will be left with less financial burden of providing healthcare free to only to the ‘have-nots’.

If you happen to walk around the corridors of these private hospitals, you will be surprised to find a significant amount of nursing staff from south India, Orissa and Manipur. In short, Kolkata’s health sector is not only providing employment to its own people, but also providing employment to nurses from other states.

From senior retired army personnel running these institutions, Kolkata has generated a bunch of young qualified, dynamic, energetic doctors who have taken health care management as a career. With bright young healthcare personnel running the show, whose career is efficient running of these hospitals, quality of healthcare has also improved.

With the increasing unemployment of Asian doctors in western world, more doctors will be come back home to Kolkata. These resources have to be used in the most fruitful way, in the way of hierarchy system of structured training and responsibilities.

The motto is soon to change: if you want to go on a religious pilgrimage, you have to be in Mecca, Varanasi or Rome. If you are thinking of a health pilgrimage, surely your destination in near future will be Kolkata.