In what should be welcome news for tens of thousands of visitors to this city, private hospitals and nursing homes are modernising and entering into tie-ups with well-known groups, hoping to benefit from the growing trend in medical tourism.
Half a dozen super specialty hospitals have come up in a year, in addition to scores of smaller general hospitals catering to locals and those from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and other parts of Uttar Pradesh.
Said Ravi Pachauri, who is director of the joint venture between Noida-based Fortis hospital and Ravi Hospital, here: "Agra is definitely moving in the direction of a well developed medical tourism centre. With the new international airport coming up soon, and competent city doctors working abroad, this process will start soon enough.
"Medical facilities in Agra have expanded immensely. Earlier we referred our patients to hospitals in Delhi, now with the latest gadgetry and facilities available locally, patients take advantage and save both money and time."
Apollo Hospitals has also entered into partnership with Pankaj Mahendru's medical outfit. The new venture is called Apollo Pankaj.
Said Apollo Pankaj director Pankaj Mahendru: "Earlier during the British and Mughal empires also, Agra was the main centre of health services. Now embassies and corporate houses are referring patients to hospitals here which have a fairly competent base of manpower and facilities."
An American company Mefcom Agro Ind has acquired stakes in Kamayani Patients Care India, a multi-specialty hospital, providing specialty cancer treatment.
Metro, Heritage, Pushpanjali, Shanti Ved, Pareek's, Nawal Kishore's, GG Nursing Home and Sarkar's, the oldest nursing home in Agra, are some of the other hospitals that have broken new ground in Agra by modernising their infrastructure and facilities.
To support the fast growing medical tourism industry, at least a dozen training institutes for paramedic staff as well as research centres have come up. The Agra Mental Hospital is conducting several programmes to train personnel for this specialised sector. Even the 150-year-old S N Medical College now presents a new profile in a bid to attract patients from the rest of India and even abroad.
Medical tourism has been catching on in India, thanks mainly to the booming health care industry that provides quality treatment at a fraction of what one has to spend in Western countries. Around 150,000 foreigners visited India last year for health care.