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Border management at Torkham affects medical tourism in KP

Border management at Torkham affects medical tourism in KP

PESHAWAR: Clashes along the Afghan border at Torkham have had a negative effect on medical tourism and the pharmaceutical sector in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as fewer Afghan patients are opting for treatment at hospitals in KP, choosing instead to go to India.

After the implementation of a new border management policy at Torkham, arrival of Afghan patients in Peshawar has decreased and as a result the city’s hospitals are making losses alongside the market for life-saving drugs.

“Before the Torkham clashes, we served up to 1,000 patients in the out-patient department on a daily basis. Half of the patients were Afghan nationals. But now we attend up to 400 patients, only 100 of whom are Afghans,” said Tariq Khan, director administration of the Rehman Medical Institute.

According to Dr Javed, emergency consultant of a private hospital, Afghan patients prefer treatment in Pakistan due to shared culture and language, but India has benefited from the Torkham border skirmishes since the issue surfaced.

“India is providing Afghan patients facilities such as an easier visa policy, boarding and an interpreter on arrival at the airport,” said Dr Javed.

Pakistan Chemist and Druggist Association vice chairman Naseeb Khan told Dawn that the sale of life-saving drugs in Peshawar had dropped by 50 to 60 per cent after the Torkham clashes.

Mr Khan, who runs a medical store outside the Khyber Teaching Hospital, said his monthly income had declined from Rs250,000 to Rs120,000.

Following the construction of a gate at the Torkham border crossing point and implementation of new border management policy, cross-border movement of Afghans had significantly reduced, border officials said.

Before the clashes, they said, around 6,000 to 7,000 Afghan nationals entered Pakistan at Torkham on a daily basis, but now only 300 to 400 people were able to enter the country on showing valid travel documents.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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