What Would We Do If We Got Sick in India?

tan05046One of the many concerns with traveling so far from home and staying for four months , was health care.  The university had special emergency  insurance for all of us in the group. I am not sure exactly when that evacuation would be necessary, as thank God we didn’t need it.  It was my understanding, though, that we would be flown to Singapore for treatment and not all the long flight back to the United States.  I guess I was more concerned about minor medical care, especially for David and me.  I thought the young ones would not be needing to see the doctor.  Boy was I wrong.  We had some very strong medicine with a myriad of side affects for the expected Delhi Belly, but as neither of us are medically trained, dispensing it  to  other people’s children didn’t appeal to us.

I asked pretty much from day one if anyone could recommend a doctor and was very pleased that one of the young assistant professor’s mom was radiologist. She recommended  gastrointestinal physician  in our neighborhood!  We felt it very important to have  doctor who was recommended by another  doctor. . . .icing on the cake!  We were prepared with the symptoms arose and David took 4 of the students who had been sick for several days.  The doctor was board certified in gastrointestinal medicine  and cardiology!   We were impressed with the appearance and care of the office, the promptness scheduling an appointment , his thoroughness, including blood work and the  cost of the office visit for each  student was $20 !  He prescribed some medicine and gave instructions for eating, such as rice, bananas, and yogurt to soothe the stomach and introducing Indian food slowly.


Monici’s mom also recommended Samved Hospital  one of two nearby hospitals, if the need arose. It is a specialized hospital for orthopedic surgery and urology, but we did just walk in and were seen by  a doctor.  It is pretty obvious what tourist complaints are walking in from the street.  I went with students there a few times. One had a broken toe from playing soccer.  another Dehli Belly,  and David took one girl to a hospital in Varanasi which was not as clean and new as Samedved.  I guess everything in one of the oldest cities on the planet is old!

Back to Samed,  We were always treated with such respect …..and deference, actually. That embarrassed me as we weren’t there for an emergency.  We were ushered into private rooms to wait and  be seen before the Indians who had waited quite  awhile , sometimes. I would insist that we sit in the regular waiting room and wait our turn , but they would have none of that. Each visit  the hospital was clean as a whistle, and the care was appropriate and successful.  I would feel perfectly comfortable to go to Samed myself for treatment. That wasn’t necessary but comforting to know.

I did go with another girl to a Hindu hospital way across town, 40 -50 minutes in a rickshaw ride. One of the Indian students had recommended a doctor and called for an appointment.  I remember vividly the ride and seeing a Muslim funeral procession carrying the body to burial, just outside the slum which was massive.  Hindus cremate ,Muslim bury, and quickly after death.  Finally we got to this huge Hindu hospital with a giant statue in the entrance. I don’t remember which god was being honored but just the size.  This hospital was different, I would say public, as patients were lying on the floors waiting to be seen.  Doctors have hours in the hospitals during the day and office hours  in the evenings for  private patients.   We were given  a guide to show us around this new hospital  and get us to the places we needed.  Hardly a word of English was spoken, but by the doctor. Again were were given special and immediate attention and all eyes were on the two white women.  Again I tried to wait our turn , but it was useless.  X-rays were taken and the hospital  was so huge, that we really  did need our guide.  Again the cost was minimal and the hospital had a dispensary for the very reasonable meds.

Well, all this is to tell you if you need medical care in India, excellent care is available.  Many of the doctors have trained in the US or the UK. My dentist in Arizona said, “Indians are quite intelligent  and gifted in science.” That was my experience.

I was very careful to follow the travel nurse’s directions and I had only one night of discomfort.  The students would eat street food for $0.30 a night and then be sick for 4 days!  We met a family in Varanasi  airport. Both the partners were doctors  back to visit their Indian family  from their new home in California.  The man told me that they get sick every time they come back to India. There are many reasons why. . . .  “different everything.”  I even continued to brush my teeth with bottled water to the very end.   Though I have to admit during the last week, we visited Manek Chowk for the night feast, and I couldn’t resist the delicious food and was fine!


I wish I had Manici’s mom’s phone number to give you but your hotel or guide can give you good information.  Don’t let fear of medical care keep you from incredible India! It is different ,but all good if you choose carefully!

This Is Incredible India!

About annetbell

I am a retired elementary teacher, well seasoned world traveler,new blogger, grandmother, and a new enthusiastic discoverer of the wonderfully complex country of India. Anne
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22 Responses to What Would We Do If We Got Sick in India?

  1. Our daughter spent 6 months in India and Nepal and remained healthy up until the last 48 hours. She was then very sick and was taken to a local hospital, given excellent diagnostic treatment and scans, rehydration, medication and a very, very small bill. She was overwhelmed by the care and attention given her and a little concerned that every member of staff in the hospital seems to be involved in her treatment while others waited.

    • annetbell says:

      Oh Hilary, thanks for sharing youro daughter ‘s experience. It is just as I would expect. We have a professor friend who works with Business Schools in Bangalore . He had a broken back that happened before leaving the states. His treatment was completely successful in India with 6 weeks in bed in the hospital and bill at completion of a whopping $1700 ! Unbelievable !

    • annetbell says:

      Check my blog tomorrow about Medical Tourism in India!

  2. YellowCable says:

    Getting sick aboard isn’t fun and isn’t simple matter…

  3. lauramacky says:

    Scary about people laying around on the floors. I’ve seen that in Mexico once. I’m wondering if it felt weird to have all eyes on you or if you felt strangely for getting preferential treatment? Not that I’m saying it’s a bad thing…I’m sure I would’ve been happy about it if I were in your shoes, and just having recovered from food poisoning last week, I can relate! I have heard Indians are gifted in technology and that’s why there are large indian cultures here in the bay area because of technology. A plus for me because I adore Indian food!!! 🙂

    • annetbell says:

      My husband said the pain was terrible with Delhi Belly and of course being sick anywhere is not fun.
      Indian people are very open and not subtle in the least. They stare, and can ask personal questions like “Are you married?” or “How much money do you make?” just after meeting you. And the staring is constant as they are just curious. It didn’t bother me too much but one of the lovely girls who got lots of attention asked, ” Don’t their mothers teach them it is rude to stare?” The answer is no, It is because in India it is not rude. In the hospital , I didn’t want the Indians to think I wanted special care and wanted to wait my turn. That just didn’t happen. I used not to wave to people from the bus as they stared, because I thought I would be saying , look at me, I am riding and you are walking. But I started waving and got those big Indian smiles as if they were saying, thanks for noticing and acknowledging me! The culture is very different but I loved it! No matter where you travel, I think it is important to be a respectful visitor and definitely not an “ugly American!”.

      • lauramacky says:

        I totally agree about not being an Ugly American. We went to Paris several years ago and I had taken 6 years of french way back when. I brushed up and refused to speak english until I got totally stuck. The Parisians were incredibly friendly and have a great sense of humor! I didn’t expect that. I love hearing your stories!

      • annetbell says:

        This is a major change in attitude for the Parisians. Husband taught with a French woman from near Switzerland, native speaker. When she went to Paris years ago, they would pretend not to understand her French. We didn’t go for years. I “took” French but never really studied it so I was useless. When we finally went , we found the young people anxious to practice their English and no one insulted us. When D and I were in H S, for the kids going to college you took Latin and either French or German. Spanish was for the peasant language for the non-college bound students. Funny thing about that situation now….the Spanish speakers are taking over the country! Seems hardly anyone takes French anymore and I don’t think the French have gotten over that! The French have rather a superior attitude. Isn’t Paris magical?

      • lauramacky says:

        Paris is indeed magical!!! I don’t speak any Spanish and I live in California! lol I know burrito, guacamole, etc. ha! The french do have a slightly superior attitude but I think because I’m fairly outgoing and eager to please in some situations, they warmed up fast to me. We had a whole back of the bus laughing as we were going around looking at the sites. 😀

      • annetbell says:

        I am very outgoing too and can talk to anyone. Husband is very quiet. Poor guy doesn’t get a chance.l I think you hit it on the head. People respond favorably to friendly people, in any country. I would high-five kids on the street and wave, and wave. Husband called me the queen!

      • lauramacky says:

        ha! My hubby is more quiet too unless we’re talking golf or technology, lol.

      • annetbell says:

        They are all the same after all!

    • annetbell says:

      I LOVE Indian food, too!

      • lauramacky says:

        I actually make some dishes. There was a food network star Aarti Parti…I think that was the name of her show. I loved her recipes! Even restaurants couldn’t make it that good lol.

      • annetbell says:

        Wow, I am impressed. I don’t like to cook, but love to eat. I fell in love with gobi…cauliflower. I used to eat is raw only and biriani veg. I am pretty much a vegetarian now since India. Biriani is spicy rice. Good for you !

  4. Glad to hear you followed the travel nurse’s directions! Safari Health NP

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