India is emerging as one of the favourite destinations for health tourists in Asia with strengths in cardiac care, joint replacement and eye care. This is stated in an UNCTAD expert paper on General Agreement in Trade in Services (Gats). It said India attracted over 100,000 health tourists in 2002, most of whom had visited the country for cardiac care, joint replacements and eye care. Most of the visitors were from the Middle East, Britain and neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan. Thailand is the top destination for health tourism receiving rich visitors from the US and UK. Thailand has strength in cosmetic surgery, organ transplants, dental treatment and joint replacements.
According to the paper, Indian health care providers (doctors, nurses, technicians) deliver services in the Middle East on short-term bilateral contracts. The service providers have had their training in developed countries. India has also emerged as the most important source country registered under the H1A category to the US. As many as 81,000 Indian nurses went to the USA under H1A visa as compared to 15,838 for China and 5509 for the Philippines.