Caroline Ratner spoke to Nitin Pandea, Head of Healthcare and Life Sciences Cluster at the Board of Investment, Invest Mauritius Global.
Nitin Pandea talked to us about investment in Medical Tourism to Mauritius and the forthcoming BioHealth Mauritius 2009 which is being organised by the Board of Investment (the national investment promotion and facilitation agency of the Republic of Mauritius) in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Science and Research, the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life and Enterprise Mauritius.
Can you tell me about Invest Mauritius Global and healthcare investment in the country?
Over the past few years, Mauritius has attracted significant foreign direct investment in the healthcare sector. Major global healthcare players have set up multi-speciality and super speciality centres of excellence in Mauritius. The island is gradually transforming itself into a healthcare and wellness destination.
What is your role?
My role is to attract investors to bring them to Mauritius. So far we have been successful in attracting investors from India, UK, South Africa and France who are keen to invest in healthcare and medical tourism.
Are these foreign investors established healthcare companies/providers in their own countries?
Yes, most are already in involved in medical tourism. India’s Apollo Hospitals group have just opened a two hundred bed hospital for both locals and medical tourists. The focus at this hospital is to attract Africans and it’s been open for three months and is already attracting patients from all around the world but especially regional African countries.
Fortis, another big Indian hospital group has recently acquired a 140 bed /hospital clinic in Mauritius in partnership with a local group. Interestingly, this is Fortis Healthcare’s first foray into international healthcare provision outside India and they chose Mauritius.
What is attracting people to Mauritius, why are they choosing to invest in the country?
Mauritius is ranked 17 out of 183 economies in the 2010 Doing Business Survey, making it the star of the Africa region for the second consecutive year and many surveys say that Mauritius is the best place in Africa and the Middle East to live.
What are the reasons for this?
Well, first of all it’s very easy to do business here; you can quickly set up a business in 3 to 7 days. You get to register a company and incorporate it in 2 days and then you can get a work permit in 3 days. You can start hiring very quickly too - all this helps make investment and planning very attractive.
Our corporation tax is rate is only 15%, which is much lower than other countries, so we offer a good tax platform which is of course, conducive to investment.
Can a healthcare provider set up in just three days or are there background checks that they have to go through?
Of course setting up a hospital or clinic will take longer and regulatory authenticity of all health suppliers is controlled by the Ministry of Health and there are many permits required and regular checks on hospitals are also carried out by the Ministry of Health.
Do you think that the speed at which you can set up here leave you vulnerable to fraud?
No, we’re not vulnerable to fraud because the onus is on investors to do their own due diligence/compliance. Mauritius offers an open platform and investors that come here have self compliance systems so there is no possibility of fraud.
Where are you patients coming from and which treatments are the most popular?
Because of our geographical position and reputation as a world class holiday resort we are attracting patients from all over Europe, Africa and Asia.
Patients are coming here for plastic and cosmetic surgery, dentistry, cardiology, high tech diagnostics and general surgery.
We even have patients coming here for psychiatric services as we have a specialist clinic here, but all in all we are seeing a growing number and broad range of patients coming here.
What’s your biggest market?
Our market is not restricted to any one country or continent, we’re situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean and currently our main sources come from all over the world for treatment including Europe, Africa and Australia.
Our doctors are trained locally and overseas and although our medical schools have only recently opened and we are seeing investors in private nursing schools and medical schools as well as medical facilities.
How is the market growing and what is attracting patients and investors to Mauritius?
In 2005 only 1,000 medical tourists came to Mauritius; 10,000 patients are projected for 2009. So, as far as both patients and investors are concerned we have rapidly established ourselves and opened up our frontiers as credible and reputable players in the medical tourism market.
We offer high standards of clinical excellence provided by high quality people. Mauritius is already one of the world’s top vacation destinations and has a deserved reputation as a quality destination. Quality is one of the main drivers for people seeking to come here for a holiday and it’s the same for medical treatments. Having said that many treatments and procedures are considerably cheaper here than in many other global healthcare destinations but cost really is not the main reason why people are choosing to come here.
You are holding a conference soon - BioHealth Mauritius - which will bring together speakers and delegates from the worlds of Life Science and Medical Tourism, where is the connection between Medical Tourism and Life Sciences?
As well as positioning Mauritius as a player in the medical tourism market we are also positioning it in high-end biomedical research by promoting the development of niche areas like Drug Discovery, Bioinformatics, Medical Biotechnology, Clinical Trials, Pre-Clinical Development, Stem Cells Research, Nanotechnology and Nanomedicine. Mauritius is now looking at the development of a fully integrated healthcare and life sciences cluster hence the joint conference.
We believe that there are many synergies between healthcare and life sciences; medical tourism experts such as Keith Pollard from Treatment Abroad and Rudy Rupak from PlanetHospital and other operators from the UK and South Africa will be attending BioHealth Mauritius to see what Mauritius has to offer. Our aim is to put Mauritius on the map in the Medical Tourism market and this event is one way of showing the world what we can offer.
With that intention in mind the national investment promotion agency is spearheading this initiative by creating the most appropriate environment and encouraging investment in Healthcare and Life Sciences.
Comments provided below do not represent the views of IMTJ. Comments will be published "as is" and will not be edited by IMTJ staff. IMTJ is hosting these comments, and is not undertaking an editorial role in the content of these comments. However, it is editorial policy not to publish comments which have been submitted anonymously.