Healthcare in India
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The quality of healthcare in India varies. Expats shouldn't struggle to find well-qualified English-speaking medical practitioners at private hospitals in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, but facilities in rural areas are limited.
Most people use private healthcare in India, even though many of them can't afford it. Costs escalate quickly, so expats will need to invest in health insurance.
Public healthcare in India
Public hospitals in India often employ well-trained English-speaking doctors. But a lack of equipment, funding and staff cause serious problems in the government sector. In addition, India’s public hospitals are overcrowded. Waiting lists for treatment are long and conditions aren't always hygienic. Public healthcare facilities in rural areas are even more limited.
As a result, locals and expats opt for private care whenever possible.
Private healthcare in India
Private hospitals in India are generally more in line with standards Western expats are used to. They are also preferred by Indian locals, who typically pay for these services out-of-pocket.
Private hospitals can often be used in non-emergencies for most medical needs, including regular check-ups and consultations. While there are many private facilities in cities like Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai, expats should research to find out which of their local healthcare providers best suits their needs.
Health insurance in India
All expats moving to India should ensure that they have adequate health insurance coverage. Working expats might have insurance provided by their employer, but it's important to keep in mind that some policies will only cover treatment at certain hospitals. Expats should investigate the terms of their given policy and make sure they understand what it covers. If there are limitations to the cover offered, consider paying extra for a more comprehensive policy.
Some international insurance providers may not be recognised by Indian hospitals, and in these cases expats will have to pay cash out of pocket. If this does happen, keeping all the necessary paperwork is essential if they want to be reimbursed by their insurer.
Pharmacies in India
Pharmacies are easy enough to find in major Indian cities. They're attached to most private medical facilities or in major shopping precincts. Most types of medication will be readily available and the costs are generally low.
However, those travelling to more rural areas should ensure that they have a supply of any necessary medication because pharmacies may not be as well stocked in such places.
Health hazards in India
New arrivals in India need to be especially careful when it comes to water and food hygiene – having an upset stomach is a common complaint of newcomers.
Tap water in India is not usually safe, so it's best to use boiled or bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth. Ice cubes should be avoided. It's also a good idea to be wary of eating meat at street vendors and restaurants – at the very least, expats should make sure that their meal is hot and properly cooked.
Malaria is present throughout much of the country, so expats should take precautions against mosquito bites by using a repellent and covering up at dusk. Seeking medical advice about prophylaxis before moving to India is advisable.
Emergency services in India
While most private hospitals in India provide ambulance services at an additional fee, calling an ambulance is not always the best way to get to the hospital. Traffic congestion is a major problem in Indian cities and motorists often ignore an ambulance's siren. Private transport is often the fastest way to get to the hospital.
To call an ambulance in the event of an emergency, dial 102.