Home / Companies / News /  Aakash Health buys Tashkent hospital

NEW DELHI : New Delhi-based Aakash Healthcare Pvt. Ltd on Wednesday said it has acquired Asia Med Centre in Uzbekistan’s Tashkent for $4 million. The upgraded 60-bedded multi-speciality hospital will be opened to public on 23 November.

The large number of medical tourists from Uzbekistan visiting India for advanced treatment, prompted the hospital to enter the market, managing director Aashish Chaudhry said in an interview. “While we were exploring Uzbekistan for getting patients to India, we realized that every country is leveraging medical tourism as a dollar train," he added. Over 400 Uzbek patients visited at a time, and around 10,000 annually, he said. “Our team visited 14 times to treat patients there and we were working on the project for the last three years. Only last month we finalized our deal."

Aakash Healthcare is planning to expand to South Asia and Dubai, through its sister concern ANVKA Healthcare.

According to Chaudhry, the company approached Uzbek officials, who offered them two government hospitals from the days of the Soviet Union, however, it decided to back of as the facilities were in poor condition and would require a lot of infrastructure investment.

“We don’t want to spend on infrastructure, but for medical care and technology. So, we did not go with the offer back then. Then we started exploring in the private sector and when we started searching for hospitals there, we found that the quality of care was not at all good, lacking medicines, expertise and equipment." He said the company will have to build the facilities from scratch.

"When we acquired Asia Med hospital, it had 30 beds and we invested $400 million and as a total $10 million in the next three years to upgrade. Now, we have upgraded to 60 beds. We have submitted our new plan to local authorities – Hakimiyet to upgrade the hospital with 75 beds with emergency and intensive care," he said. 

Akash Healthcare has absorbed all 57 employees at the Asia Med Centre, besides moving many of its experienced doctors from India to the Tashkent centre, calling it a case of “reverse medical tourism".

 “A team of Indian doctors will train local medical professionals with quality healthcare practices, so that they can work at par with their Indian counterparts. Besides this, we are also planning to establish facilities in Dubai and Southeast Asian Region," said Dr Chaudhry. 

The central government is working on ‘Heal By India’ initiative that will provide an opportunity for Indian doctors and medical professionals to travel to other countries to perform surgeries, providing a way to a healthy global society. 

Many patients visit India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Syria, Bhutan, and Africa for affordable, advanced, and quality treatment such as cosmetic surgery, bariatric surgery, orthopaedic surgery, cardiac surgery, and hip and knee replacement. India ranked seventh in 2017 with 56 million trips in wellness tourism and total revenue of $16.3 billion. 

The number of international patients increased from 430,000 in 2016 to 700,000 in 2019 with estimated market size in the range of $5-6 billion for 2019, a tourism ministry report said last year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Priyanka Sharma

Priyanka Shamra is a health and pharma journalist with nearly nine years of field reporting experience. She is a special correspondent with Mint. Her beat includes covering the Ministry of Health and Department of Pharmaceuticals. She also covers the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Biotechnology.
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