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Wednesday, April 16, 2014  

Oman needs facilities for early cancer detection: KMCH chairman
Anita Joseph

Kovai Medical Center and Hospital (KMCH), one of the leading hospitals in south India, is making its presence felt here in Oman. In partnership with Genesis International, the KMCH is setting up two referral hospitals here in Bausher and Sohar. In town for the launch, Dr Nalla G Palaniswamy, chairman of the hospital, spoke to Oman Tribune about the healthcare sector in Oman, medical tourism, and the facilities at the KMCH. Excerpts:

What is your assessment of the healthcare sector in Oman?

Oman’s healthcare sector has come a long way, but it still has a long way to go. In many cases, the facilities available are just the basic minimum, and even the doctors and specialists here are not equipped to deal with very complicated, advanced surgeries. I am told that in Oman, there is not a single hospital that is equipped with a PET CT machine, which can detect cancer early. I have also understood that there are only three Cathlabs in Muscat, and that too in the government sector. Even though the private sector hospitals here are coming up with several advanced treatment options and procedures, they are only able to deal with treatments up to the secondary level. For tertiary level treatments, patients usually go to India and other countries.

What does Coimbatore, especially the KMCH, have that distinguishes it from other medical tourism destinations?

Coimbatore, especially the KMCH, is fast becoming a popular medical tourism destination. The inflow of patients from abroad to the KMCH has increased by 50 per cent in the past two years. The cost of medical care in Coimbatore is only a fraction of what it is in the rest of India and other foreign countries. For instance, cardiac surgery in the US would cost anywhere between 15,000-19,000 rials ($40-50,000), and the same procedure in cities like Delhi and Mumbai will cost around 3,500 rials ($9,000). Even in Chennai, it costs over 2,000 rials ($5,000). But here, at the KMCH it costs only around 1,400 rials ($3,600) for a cardiac surgery, while being treated by a team of the world’s best doctors.

What are the most common treatments availed by Omani patients coming to Coimbatore?

The common treatments that patients from Oman come for are knee and hip replacement surgeries, cardiac consultations of all kinds, surgeries of the pituitary gland, endocrine gland and the spine, bariatric surgery and cosmetology. People also come for complicated paediatric surgeries. Recently, a three-month-old Omani was brought to us for a complicated gastrointestinal problem and she recovered completely. Treatments for cancer are also on the rise.

How is the referral facility, which you are setting up in Oman, going to help patients?

Every month, one specialist from our centre will visit the referral centres here and patients will get the chance to have consultations with them. They can also be referred for further treatment to our hospital. When these patients come back, they can carry out follow-up treatments as well from these referral centres.

What are the latest, cutting-edge medical facilities that patients can expect at KMCH?

We are in the process of working out a hub and spokes treatment model with other hospitals in the vicinity, known as STMI India. We will tie up with hospitals within a 20km radius, so that the details of any patient who goes there are immediately stored in our records, and our doctors can offer advice to the doctors there, which will help the patient get more expert care and attention. We will first introduce this concept in Coimbatore and Chennai, and then look at other parts of the world. The KMCH also recently set up a comprehensive cancer care hospital, with an investment of $46,590 (2.5 billion Indian rupees), equipped with the latest machines and treatment facilities. For the comfort of patients from the Middle East, we have even employed Arabic speaking staff in the hospital premises and the cafeteria. We also have special suites for their use, which are like apartments.

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