Jabalpur – A Medical Tourism Hub in Making

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A consultant maxillofacial surgeon by profession, Dr Rajesh B Dhirawani is the Managing Director of Jabalpur Hospital & Research Centre. Dr Dhirawani, who is also the Director of Hitkarini Dental College & Hospital, Jabalpur, is on a mission to provide patient care, research and education with a professional touch. His areas of expertise are Oral, Dental and Maxillofacial Surgery. In a recent interview to Prabhat Kumar Ghosh of Elets News Network (ENN), Dr Dhirawani describes Jabalpur as a ‘future hub of medical tourism’. Excerpts:


Dr Rajesh B Dhirawani
Managing Director
Jabalpur Hospital & Research Centre

How do you look upon Jabalpur featuring at No. 7 in the first list of 20 cities to be made ‘smart’?
I am so delighted about Jabalpur being the first city in Madhya Pradesh to feature in the list, even before the state capital of Bhopal. It is being developed as a Smart City under the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) of the Government of India.
The Jabalpur Municipal Corporation and the officials are making all-out efforts to make a truly Smart City. With Jabalpur becoming a modern-day city, having all amenities and various opportunities, brain drain from the city will come to halt to a great extent, and they would prefer to stay back in the city and pursue their vocation here itself. Given the government’s zeal and the huge investments they are planning to make, the city will certainly be able to hold back its talents. Once the city moves on the path of development, we can hope that the younger generation will come back and settled down here after pursuing their education outside the city.
Jabalpur has traditionally been known as a ‘city of traders’ or a ‘city for retired people’. But once it is developed with proper infrastructure and has the high-tech connectivity facilities like wi-fi zones, the image of Jabalpur will change once and for ever.

For a city to become smart, it must have an efficient healthcare system. What changes do you see once Jabalpur becomes a Smart City?
As far as the medical or healthcare sector is concerned, Jabalpur comes at No. 2 after Indore in Madhya Pradesh. The employees of the Indian Army and the Government of India undertakings have large presence here followed by businessmen, who are present in signicant numbers. But, they don’t seem to have that intent or resources at their disposal to invest in various ventures, including healthcare outlets, which has a huge growth potential in this region. But with the advent of the idea of a Smart City, the younger generation could feel inclined to contribute towards changing the healthcare scenario of the city. In not-too-far-away city of Nagpur, the younger lot has played a crucial role in strengthening the local healthcare infrastructure.
We (Jabalpur Hospital & Research Centre) were the first ones to conceive of a multi-specialty hospital in Jabalpur. Initially, the doctors pursuing education outside Jabalpur did not want to come back; but of late, the trend seemed to be reversing, as they are keen on starting their own venture like a clinic/nursing home here.

What do you think of the present communication system in Jabalpur and how can it be made more effective?
Communication gets simplified with the use of Internet from the point of view of easy contact, which applies to the medical field as well. There is an evolving concept of telemedicine, wherein patients located in far-flung areas can access doctors from wherever they are. It is catching up fast, and will come up more vigorously in the times to come. Using an effective communication technology, even the medical reports can be veried/ approved sitting at distant places. We  may also require video-conferencing facility for doctors in the future. In the next 10 years, we will have better infrastructure to practise telemedicine in a more efficient way.

medicalTraffic on the city roads is often chaotic, making it difficult even for ambulances to move. How can the situation be improved?
Also, how can air ambulance services be made more efficient and affordable? Ambulances should be allowed in Bus Rapid Transit Systems (BRTS). The public transport system should be made more effective to regulate the traffic flow. If a good public transport facility is there, people would prefer to commute by public transport, like Metro trains, for their treatment.
As far as air ambulance service is concerned, developing a helipad on large open spaces, which are in abundance in the city, will set the ball rolling for such facilities. The seat availability can be made online and patients can be airlied to and fro. With increase in such services, the costs would become competitive.

Jabalpur has huge tourism potential. Do you think the city can be developed as a medical tourism hub?
For a city to become a medical tourism hub, state-of-the-art medical facilities are a must. With Jabalpur going ‘smart’, such facilities can be safely expected to become a reality. Apart from that, hospitals tying up with some good travel agents to attract ‘medical tourists’ could go a long way towards developing Jabalpur as a medical tourism hub.
Apart from technology, doctors and hospitals also need to be more professional. They need to maintain cleanliness/hygiene, better facilities and provide a conducive atmosphere to those visiting the city for treatment. Patients can come here, stay, get treated and go back cured. Providing such facilities would certainly become much easier in a well-developed Smart City’, which would facilitate the path for the city to transform itself as a medical tourism hub. Having said that, one needs to add that all this just can’t happen without the government’s pro-active support.
Last but not the least, such conceptualisation needs a collective vision and all the citizens need to work in a focussed way to achieve the objective. Jabalpur Mayor Dr Swati Godbole, very recently observed that in our pursuit to make the city a Smart City, let’s not stop our efforts until it becomes at par with Singapore.

Dr Rajesh B Dhirawani 
Rajesh_B_DhirawaniWe (Jabalpur Hospital & Research Centre) were the first ones to conceive of a multi-specialty hospital in Jabalpur. Initially, the doctors pursuing education outside Jabalpur did not want to come back; but of late, the trend seemed to be reversing, as they are keen on starting their own venture like a clinic/nursing home here
Smart Healthcare & Education for Smart City Ecosystem
Dr Rajesh Dhirawani, Chairman, Jabalpur Hospital

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