INDIA FOR HEALTHCARE
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Updated 3rd October 2021 to include Covid Travel Requirements
This article is continuously updated.
India is by far one of the most highly sought after medical tourist destinations on the planet due to it's uniquely spiritual heritage, cultural richness, wide variety of healthcare practitioners and affordability. If you are in need of specialized medical treatment and a holiday to renew your lease on life, then consider healthcare in India.
Throughout the course of this article, we'll take a look at what makes healthcare in India stand out as well as what you can do while visiting the country to make the most of the experience!
The Medical Scope: What Healthcare in India is Known For
India truly has a large variety of medical treatments to choose from and is actively striving for excellence in it's health sector, both public and private. This should hardly come as a surprise, what with India's rich medical heritage of Ayurveda which boasts an extensive history that spans back at least 5000 years!
Moving forward from this well-documented base of medical experience, India takes pride in it's medical proficiency and strives to take the initiative in expanding upon this knowledge through cutting edge innovation, technology and research.
Healthcare in India is divided into the public and the private sector. While the public sector is a lot more affordable, it is often not the best quality and tends to be understaffed and overtaxed.
For these reasons, we will be placing a main focus on India's private healthcare, urging travelers to rather seek medical attention from the private sector, as the quality is on par with global standards.
Here are a few other points to make about India's ever-growing private healthcare sector that set it apart from the rest of the world.
Surgery & Specialty Care
Healthcare in India caters to the full spectrum of surgical procedures and operations, from heart transplants to cosmetic surgery. There are 39 JCI-accredited hospitals in India, many of them being well-known international chains. Much of India's best specialty clinics have focused on researching and treating diseases of the heart and eyes, making these potentially the best reasons to travel for healthcare in India.
Nevertheless, these are not the only treatments worthy of traveling there for! Chennai is deemed as being the "medical capital of India," boasting a large variety of hospitals and specialty clinics that many tourists frequent on a daily basis. Of all the reasons people travel for healthcare in India, the below treatments are some of the most popular:
- Cardiac bypass
- Eye surgery
- Bone-marrow transplants
- Hip replacements
- Alternative medicine
Diagnostics & Research
India has always had a reputation for being an influential scholarly country in the East and its medical scene reflects this. Thanks to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) - one of the oldest medical bodies in the world - the country is continuously working to offer the best medical research and diagnostic tools to improve its quality of healthcare.
There are quite a few medical research initiatives being carried out in India which often offer the top hospitals access to some of the most cutting edge technology and medical equipment on the planet! The ICMR is based in New Delhi, however has an arm in almost every major Indian city, making access to the latest equipment highly accessible.
Technological innovation is one of the greatest aspects of India's progressive healthcare system. The country is far from solving all it's health problems in the rural sectors, however out of a lack of accessibility rose India's focus on telemedicine; allowing patients to connect via technology with their doctors to continue treatments. This means that you may not need to spend your full stay in a hospital and can explore at your leisure while still being in contact with a physician.
Lab Tests at Home
Another perk of telemedicine, and India's drive to offer accessible healthcare, is that diagnostics no longer need to be carried out at a hospital. Instead, you can order to have the blood tests you need from your home or hotel. At a time that suits you, a qualified lab technician will arrive at your door, take a blood sample and arrange that the results be sent to your doctor. Tailored healthcare on-the-go!
MYA Care is able to connect you with both world-class physicians in India and 3rd parties that specialize in door-to-door diagnostics; making your journey to health as easy as signing up.
Complementary & Traditional Medicine
As mentioned above, India has very firm roots in Ayurveda; the traditional medical practice and philosophy of India. Many tourists favor using Ayurvedic doctors for their complementary therapies that appear to support the efficacy of conventional treatments. The system of medicine uses herbs and other natural treatments to improve overall well-being and vitality in patients.
Additionally, Ayurveda often contains a spiritual component. This near-mystical form of medicine has attracted plenty of travelers who are keen to heal on more than just a physical level; turning their healthcare journey into a spiritual one as well!
For the best results, opt for an Ayurvedic practitioner who works in the private healthcare sector. You may find the best success by booking in at any of the 5-star Spas and resorts India has to offer.
For English speakers, there is no need to worry about a language barrier when receiving healthcare in India. English is one of India's national languages and many healthcare professionals can speak it fluently, having also traveled abroad for their studies in either the UK or US.
Some hospitals have expanded their repertoire and hired translators to accommodate patients from certain regions of the world, such as Africa and the Balkans.
Popular Things to Explore in India Along the Way
As you can see, India has you covered for all your healthcare needs, but what else can one explore while there? The answer is likely to blow you away!
India is not just a place to receive quality healthcare at affordable rates. It’s also a place to nourish your soul, fuel your creativity and embrace a broader philosophical perspective on life that will have you expanding your sense of connection to the divine.
There are more than 21 different festivals celebrated in India annually, with an average of two being carried out per month! With it's diverse culture, India is certainly a land of celebration.
Perhaps three of the most famous nation-wide festivals to attend are:
- Diwali, the festival of Light. Celebrates the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana after a 14-year exile. During the festival, lights are the main attraction, glittering all over the place with unmatched glamour! People traditionally dress in their best clothes, share treats and participate in parades that often make use of fireworks
- Holi, the festival of Colors. Celebrates the victory of the good Prince Prahlad over the evil Holika, as well as the beginning of Spring. The night before the festival, locals build massive bonfires which are the center of much dancing and merry-making. On the festival, people gather together in public areas and color each other by throwing bright powders or colored water-filled balloons - hence the name, festival of colors.
- Dussehra, the triumph of Good over Evil. Celebrates Lord Rama's victory over the demon king and his forces. This is one of the most impressive festivals as monumental effigies of the demons are built just to be burned down over the course of the festival, creating a spectacular display. Dramatic re-enactments of the religious scene are held all over the country throughout the festival too.
2. Historical Sites & Temple Architecture
From the iconic Taj Mahal to the Ajanta and Ellora Caves, from the Victoria Memorial to the Mysore Palace; India has an incredible list of historical sites to experience while you visit. Home to some of the most beautiful Eastern architecture and ancient heritage sites, there seem to be palaces, temples, holy sites and forts littered all throughout the landscape!
The best part is that you won't need to travel very far from your city of choice when receiving medical treatment before encountering some of these magnificent buildings. Tours can also be arranged that allow you to soak up all this mystical land has to offer.
3. The Food
Why travel to India if all you're going to eat is the same food that you're used to getting back at home? India is home to some of the most mouth-watering spicy foods known to the planet!
- Biryani - a sweet type of curry that often includes eggs and different meats, served with rice.
- Butter Chicken Paneer - mouthwatering buttery spicy chicken curry, often served with rotis.
- Chaat - a common variety of delicious street food, usually made from fried dough chips, potatoes, lentils, chickpeas, chutneys, mango, rice and yoghurt.
- Stuffed Parathas - A unique Indian bread stuffed with all sorts of fillings from cheese to meat to vegetables.
- Thali - an interesting combination of different Indian meals in one, allowing you to truly taste the heart of India!
4. Bengali Tigers & Nature Reserves
India is home to many exotic animals and some truly beautiful wildlife with a few nature reserves scattered across the country. Make sure to check out the Bengali Tigers as well as the marvelous assortment of deer, rhino, monkeys and birds unique to India.
For those who are so inclined, there is also nothing quite like touring the Himalayan Mountains. World-famous for housing the tallest peaks in the whole world, the snowy landscape of the Himalayas is an incredible sight that can certainly put life into perspective!
5. The Marketplaces
If you have an eye for bargains, then be sure to check out any of the many market places in India. Some of the best Indian sandals, jewelry, perfumes, carpets, ornaments, spices and dresses such as saari's are all sold at local markets. Often shopkeepers play a bargaining game, so before making any purchases, try to understand the value of what you're going in for and don't be shy to make an offer on anything you would like!
Medical Visas for Healthcare in India
The government as of February 2019 has begun to license medical travel visas to make it easier for medical tourists to receive healthcare in India. This visa allows you to stay in the country for up to 6 months without needing to hop back home, giving the best chance of treatment and recovery.
Medical visas are still valid during the pandemic, provided applications were made after October 30th 2020.
COVID Travel Requirements for India
India has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, reported to have some of the highest SARS-COV-2 infection rates globally. As of March 2020, India’s borders have remained completely closed to foreign travelers. Through the course of the pandemic, travel restrictions have begun to ease up, however tourism is still prohibited.
NOTE: The below information is subject to change at a moment’s notice. Make sure to check with the relevant authority before planning your trip to India.
Who’s Allowed into India?
Currently, India’s borders are open to nationals, residents, healthcare professionals, business officials, visa holders (excl. tourist visas) and visitors from 28 locations with which India has made pandemic travel agreements. One may apply for a medical visa in order to travel for healthcare in India. Medical attendant visas are also available which allow for those escorting a patient to travel to India.
India has made ‘Air Transport Bubbles’ or travel agreements with the following countries and cities:
- Ethiopia (enables all travelers from Africa entry to India)*
- France (enables all travelers from the EU, South America or Africa entry to India)*
- Germany (enables all travelers from the EU, South America or Africa entry to India)*
- Kenya (enables all travelers from Africa entry to India)*
- Nepal (enables all travelers entry into India)*
- Netherlands (enables all travelers from the EU, South America or Africa entry to India)*
- Nigeria (enables all travelers entry into India)*
- Qatar (enables all travelers from South America or Africa entry to India)*
- Rwanda (enables all travelers from Africa entry to India)*
- Seychelles (enables all travelers from Africa entry to India)*
- Sri Lanka (enables all travelers entry into India)*
- Tanzania (enables all travelers from Africa entry to India)*
- Ukraine (enables all travelers from CIS countries entry to India; excl. Russian travelers; incl. Russian diplomats/officials)*
- United Arab Emirates (enables all travelers from South America or Africa entry to India)*
- UK (enables all travelers entry into India)*
- US (enables all travelers entry into India)*
- Uzbekistan (enables all travelers from CIS countries entry to India; excl. Russian travelers; incl. Russian diplomats/officials)*
Unless otherwise specified, India will only accept nationals and residents from the countries listed above, as well as Indian nationals and residents.
Transits: Transiting any of the above countries in order to enter India is prohibited. However, travelers from select regions (marked above*) may travel to India if they were approved entry into the country with an Indian Air Bubble agreement.
India Entry Requirements
The following requirements and restrictions refer to those enforced by the Indian government. Further restrictions may be implemented for travel to any of India’s 28 states, as decreed by the local authority of the respective area.
COVID-19 state regulations may be reviewed here. If uncertain, please check with your local Indian Embassy or contact a relevant authority online.
Air Suvidha Portal: 3 days before planning to transit or travel to India, all travelers need to fill out forms provided on the Air Suvidha portal. The self-declaration form will need to be shown to officials at the airport. Part of the application process demands uploading a negative covid test result. Visa exemption request applications can also be found at the portal.
If arriving from the UK, Brazil, South Africa, Europe or the Middle East, one will have to provide a 14-day travel history. Travelers from these regions are likely to have additional requirements and restrictions.
For more information on travel requirements, refer to the Indian government’s guidelines for International Arrivals.
Aarogya Setu app: The Indian government has made it mandatory for all travelers visiting India to download the Aarogya Setu app before arriving. This app keeps a record of your covid status, helps health authorities manage contact tracing and keeps the public connected with essential health services.
Testing: All travelers are required to upload a negative RT-PCR test result 3 days prior to departure. Results need to be uploaded to the Air Suvidha portal (see above). Those journeying from the UK, Brazil, South Africa, Europe or the Middle East will be required to book an extra test upon arriving in India. All travelers will have their temperature checked. In some cases, a negative test result is also a requirement for interstate travel while visiting India.
Quarantine: The majority of travelers that tested negative for covid and fever are required to self-monitor for 14 days after arriving. Those who tested positive may be placed in institutional quarantine for 7 days, particularly if they were seated near someone from Brazil, South Africa or the UK during their flight.
Those from the UK, Brazil or South Africa will have to quarantine upon arrival for 7 days, even if tested negative for covid before and after arrival. A second test will be administered on the 7th day of quarantine.
If travelers from these countries are tested positive for covid at any point during their stay, they will be sent for genetic testing at an institutional facility to check for variants of concern. If tested positive for a variant of concern, they will remain in isolation at the facility. If tested positive for another viral variant, the traveler may be instructed to quarantine at their accommodation or at the facility.
Vaccination: Covid vaccination is not mandatory for entry into India and the above restrictions will apply whether the person is vaccinated or not. Due to the high incidence of covid in India, authorities from other nations have advised their citizens to become fully vaccinated before traveling there. India has approved the following 7 vaccines: Sputnik V, Covishield, Covaxin, Moderna, ZyCoV-D, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), and Oxford/AstraZeneca. Covovax is currently undergoing phase II/III testing and is expected to join the list soon.
One can register for vaccination in India free of charge, however an Indian vaccine certificate may not be accepted in other countries for travel purposes. Covishield is likely to be the only internationally-accepted vaccine offered by India at the moment ; with debates currently taking place about its approval.
There are several other vaccines that are mandatory for entry into India (refer to the vaccine checklist for entering India below).
Travel Ban Extension: Indian officials are currently preparing to allow for tourist activity to resume, with the promise of 5000 free visas to the first lucky applicants after travel bans lift. The border was expected to reopen for tourists on or near the 28th September 2021. The travel restrictions have recently been extended to the 30th October 2021.
Visa Extensions: A lot of countries around the globe have banned travelers from India, forcing many visitors to be stranded until further notice. The Indian government has agreed to extend visas for free until travel bans have been lifted, which were originally planned for the 30th September 2021. If stuck in India due to travel bans, you may need to pay for a visa extension after this date.
Non-COVID Vaccine Checklist for Traveling to India
According to the WHO, the below vaccinations are a requirement for traveling to receive healthcare in India:
- Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR)
- Tetanus, Diphtheria & Pertussis (TDAP)
Most of the above vaccines will only be required once or have a long action period before their validity expires. Therefore not all of them will be required before you make your way to India.
If you come from a country where another disease is prevalent for which there is a vaccine, you will likely be required to vaccinate prior to entering India. For example, your entry into India will be barred if you flew from South America without acquiring a yellow fever vaccine within the last 10 years.
5 Quick India Travel Tips
Here are three tips you should keep in mind before traveling to India.
1. Give Yourself Enough Time to Adjust
When traveling to India, you will no doubt feel jet lagged as the time zone difference is typically rather great for most people from their point of origin. Give yourself at least a few days to recoup your energy and adjust your sleep-wake cycle so that you can make the most of your trip. Otherwise you may find your holiday more exhausting than rejuvenating!
2. Keep Mosquito Repellants Handy
You'll want to make sure that you have mosquito and insect repellants handy at all times and choose accommodation that makes use of mosquito nets. Aside from the fact that mosquitoes are annoying, some regions of India place one at risk of contracting malaria or dengue fever. With the right precautions however, you should be good to go!
It’s also advisable to have antimalarial medications handy. You should be able to purchase some at local pharmacies in India.
3. Avoid Drinking or Bathing in Non-Purified Water
In numerous areas of India, the quality of drinking water is questionable with the risk of being contaminated with water-borne diseases. Many tourists have suffered from gastric upsets due to this concern. We recommend only drinking bottled water on your stay and opting for accommodation that purifies all water leading into the establishment.
Similarly, it’s advisable not to bathe in public lakes or rivers to avoid getting sick on your trip!
4. Don’t Take Advice from a Street "Doctor"
Traditional "doctors" seem to be available on every street corner in India, especially in the rural areas where healthcare access is limited. The majority of these "physicians" do not have any qualifications and therefore should not be trusted. Rather book an appointment with a registered clinician through MYA Care or check in at a private hospital, spa or resort.
5. Make Planning Your Trip a Breeze with Mya Care
Use a platform like Mya Care to plan your trip effortlessly. What makes Mya Care so easy-to-use is that everything is in one place. Choose from a list of expert healthcare providers and world-class physicians in India while simultaneously booking your accommodation and planning your journey through all the cultural sites that the country has to offer.
To search for the best Healthcare Providers in India, please use the Mya Care search engine.
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As we enter the new year, countries around the world are preparing to start mass vaccination in an effort to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple vaccine candidates have been approved by different health authorities worldwide, and some countries have already started vaccinating their citizens.
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