Crisis in India forces patients to opt for local hospitals

Monday May 03 2021
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Rwandans opt to travel to the India because its a home to some of the most skilled doctors and specialists in the world. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA


Resurgence of positive Covid-19 cases in India has deterred Rwandans seeking to travel for complex medical procedures, leaving many with no options but to settle for local hospitals they had ignored.

In the past two weeks, India saw a surge in Covid-19 cases, surpassing 17 million cases by April 27, with a record 352,991 in 24 hours, overwhelming the populous country’s healthcare system.

Patients or relatives of patients in Rwanda who had arranged to go to India for complex procedures like cancer treatment, heart operations as well as other compound surgeries have found it difficult to continue with the plans, with some opting to cancel.

“Everything had been finalised, I was to fly my father to India for a colon cancer surgery, we were supposed to fly on Monday 26, then that weekend India recorded a sharp rise in cases, we then took a decision to cancel the trip”

“I decided to take her to Kanombe Hospital to have the surgery done from there, travelling was already complicated,” said a daughter of a cancer patient who preferred anonymity.

India’s medical tourism has been on an upward growth growing into a $9billion industry in the last decade, Rwanda being one of the countries with a growing number of patients who travel to the country for treatment.


People in Rwanda as well as other countries travel to India for treatment due to low cost of treatment the country offers.

India being home to some of the most skilled doctors and specialists in the world is another reason why Rwandans opt to travel to the country, as many have little trust in their country’s health care or even the competency of the doctors, but now they will be stuck with them until the situation normalises in India.

Many patients complain of lack of professionalism, incompetency and negligence among some local doctors. A woman who went to seek treatment for an ache in her breast ended up having her breast erroneously removed as a result of a wrongful breast cancer diagnoses at a local hospital.

She was referred to Kanombe Military Hospital for a surgery based on an earlier diagnois done at a different hospital only be realised later that there was an error in diognosis.

She went on to sue both hospitals, and the case is still pending courts of law. The Indian High Commission to Rwanda is not granting visas to Rwandans traveling to India for medical reasons until further notice.

When Rwanda Today talked to Seema Malhotra, an official at the Indian High Commission, she said although they do not stop anyone to travel to India, and they continue to give medical visa’s, they are only giving visas to patients going to India for emergency medical procedures.

“For those going for treatment, we are only giving visas to patients going for emergencies” she said. “I wouldn’t recommend you to go to India, the situation is not good at all, travellers should wait for one or two months” said Seema.