Chronic Disease & Integrative Medicine in South India


Non-communicable, chronic diseases such as hypertension, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are leading causes of death and disability worldwide. In India, diabetes affects 66 million Indians, or nearly 9% of adults, one of the highest rates in the world. Join CFHI’s partner, Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM), in their efforts to address the pressing health issues faced by rural, indigenous and farming communities. Engage with those involved in community efforts to address chronic disease, disability, and other health issues through a combination of western and traditional Ayurvedic medicine, as well as through health outreach and education efforts. Learn how this community-based organization is treating “the whole patient” through an integrated approach to medicine.

Complete your orientation in Mysore, the “city of palaces” before making your way to spend time in two small, rural villages where you will shadow healthcare professionals through various rotations from the weekly “grand rounds” of inpatient care, to an Ayurveda outpatient clinic, rounds with a diabetes specialist, and learn from specialists in a children’s therapy center. You will also engage with the health outreach team to carry out rural health education. Part of your program will be spent at an Ayruveda hospital, where you will learn from experts about plant-based medicines and take part in community education camps that incorporate integrative medicine practices.  Throughout, you will learn from physicians, nurses and health educators providing primarily free services to low-income families, who are skilled in implementing a culturally relevant chronic disease care model in the poorest of settings worldwide.

Program participants will come away with an understanding of the impacts of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and chronic disease on global health, an ability to articulate the approach of integrative medicine in India, and an appreciation of how the systems of practice and healing are used simultaneously and imbedded in cultural and historical practices and belief systems. Be a part of this groundbreaking work to increase access to healthcare for indigenous and local populations, while learning about socioeconomic, cultural, geographic, linguistic, health literacy and other barriers to health and healthcare in rural India. 

CFHI offers options for students and faculty to fit your interests and schedule. Choose your program duration, or for a comparative experience, choose to participate in multiple programs. CFHI can also often accommodate alternate program dates upon request. For more information see our How to Apply page.


4 Weeks $2,525
5 Weeks $3,145
6 Weeks $3,765
7 Weeks $4,385
8 Weeks $5,005
9 Weeks $5,625
10 Weeks $6,245
Arrival Dates: 
Sep 05, 2021 Oct 03, 2021 Nov 07, 2021 Dec 05, 2021 Jan 02, 2022 Feb 06, 2022 Mar 06, 2022 Apr 03, 2022 May 08, 2022 Jun 05, 2022 Jul 03, 2022 Aug 07, 2022 Sep 04, 2022 Oct 02, 2022 Nov 06, 2022 Dec 04, 2022 

Clinical Rotations 

Public full-service rural hospital- Serving a population of 400,000, this rural, multispecialty hospital provides integrated and comprehensive health services with unique inclusive approach of Allopathy and Ayurveda. The full-service, 80-bed facility provides emergency, primary, and secondary level care to the community, with focus on the local indigenous population. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn from experts at the hospital’s rehabilitation and physical therapy center for children with disabilities.

Ayurveda Research and Treatment Center- This rural health center offers 15 beds for inpatient care, and various outpatient services to the local indigenous population. The well-equipped Ayurveda treatment center provides natural healing through Yoga, Panchakarma and a variety of rejuvenation therapies. It aims to provide sustainable, professionally managed, comprehensive and holistic health care in an underserved area. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about plant-based medicines grown on-site.

Community health education and outreach services- Join health educators in health camps covering a range of health topics affecting the local community. Participants may also have the opportunity to accompany Mobile Health Units (MHUs) which reach remote communities, providing valuable health information and care.


The majority of the program will be held in Sargur, a village located approximately 60 km from the city of Mysore in the state of Karnataka.

Things to Do

Sargur is a quiet, rural area.  CFHI participants will stay in simple shared rooms at the hospital, so should come prepared to pass most evenings with other program participants and hospital staff. On weekends, participants may choose to organize weekend trips to nearby destinations like Mysore.  Mysore, the 3rd largest city in the state of Karnataka, is known as the city of palaces, and is also referred to as the cultural capital of the state of Karnataka.  In and around Mysore, participants can visit Mysore palace, various temples, nature reserves, museums, and more. 

Accommodations & Homestays

Accommodation will be provided at the hospital premises on a shared basis (2-3 students per room). Accommodations are simple and do not include facilities like air conditioning or Internet service. There will be showers for bathing, but the water may not be hot. The food provided in the program is traditional Indian cuisine.

Eligibility: Who Can Apply?

This CFHI program is ideal for students and non-students of all levels and health disciplines. In particular, this program will focus on challenges faced in providing adequate medical care in rural settings and deepening understanding of rural/urban divides.

Language Required: English

For more information, please read CFHI's general eligibility requirements.

Arrival information

Participants should arrive in Bangalore, India on the program start date and will be picked up from the airport by a CFHI representative and driven to the guest house in Mysore. This will be a 3 to 4 hour drive.  A welcome orientation will take place on Monday, after which participants will be driven to Sargur, a rual village aboute 1 hour to 1.5 hours away from Mysore.

US citizens and others should apply for an Indian student visa in advance. More information and specific instructions on visa applications will be provided by CFHI after acceptance into the program.

What's Included

CFHI Program fees include the majority of your on the ground costs. As a nonprofit, CFHI strives to keep fees low and offers fundraising opportunities, scholarships, and discounts.

Pre-Departure Support:

  • Guidance from CFHI staff in San Francisco before departure
  • Program-specific materials with information on making travel arrangements, visa requirements, recommended immunizations, etc.

On-Site Services:

  • Airport pick-up upon arrival from Bangalore and transportation to accommodations in Mysore. 
  • Airport drop-off to Bangalore
  • Accommodation and orientation with local team at SVYM site in Mysore covering logistics, safety, program overview, cultural norms, and more
  • Transportation to  the site  following orientation
  • Simple accommodation on twin/triple  sharing basis  in the hospital premises.
  • 3 meals per day
  • CFHI Local Team: providing instruction, logistical support, and 24/7 emergency response
  • Weekly meetings and lectures on local healthcare system and socio-economic determinants of health
  • Placement and coordination of clinical activities around Saragur
  • Local cell phone
  • International emergency medical and evacuation insurance

Post-Return Resources:

  • Access to CFHI alumni-only LinkedIn group featuring news and career opportunities related to Global Health
  • CFHI alumni newsletter highlighting events, resources, and ways to stay involved


Uniquely CFHI, 50% or more of student program fees go directly to the communities they will be visiting, benefiting the local economy at large and specifically underserved health systems. Read more.

Hema Pandey- CFHI India Director: The role of the India Director is to coordinate and manage activities for all CFHI programs in India. Hema has been instrumental in establishing CFHI's growing presence in India, developing new program sites and researching CFHI's growth potential in-country. She has worked for CFHI since 2005. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business & Commerce from Kurukshetra University and a PG diploma Fashion Design from International Institute of Fashion Technology. Her professional interests include rural and urban healthcare, water and sanitation, gender, social development. She likes helping CFHI students achieve academic and personal goals and develop leadership skills during their time on program. In her free time she enjoys photography, travelling with family, volunteering, basketball, and cycling.

Dr. Manohar Prasad P.
– CFHI Mysore Medical Director: As the Senior Manager of Community Health Activities at SVYM’s Saragur resource center, Dr. Manohar oversees various community level initiatives including reproductive and child health, the mobile health unit, and community-based rehabilitation of people with disabilities, among others. He has several years of experience working in the development sector holding administrative positions and the planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating of projects, with health as the sector of focus. He is also actively involved in activities related to training: capacity building, organizing field based camps, and developing IEC materials and training modules. His background being dentistry, Dr. Manohar also oversees dental outpatient clinics and participates in school dental screening programs. He has many years of experience working in the Dental College and Hospital, teaching undergraduates, conducting discussions and demonstrations. Dr. Manohar is also involved in research activities related to maternal and child health.

Dr. Rekha Shanmukha
– CFHI Mysore Local Coordinator: Dr. Rekha Shanmukha has over 6 years of experience working with the international students at SVYM and is currently the Deputy Director of Vivekananda Institute of Indian Studies, SVYM Mysore. She has been the course coordinator for the Global Health Programs at VIIS.  Previously she was the Head of Academics and Training at Vivekananda Memorial Hospital (VMH), Sargur and also coordinated Medical Student Elective Program. She has over 11 years of practitioner experience as a dental clinician.  Her other interests are teaching, health training and facilitating, clinical management and administration. She has visited the US in the year 2010 on an invitation by University of Iowa.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a global roadmap set forth by the United Nations General Assembly to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure the well-being of all individuals by the year 2030. This program highlights the following SDGs: