Global Health in India (Dehradun & Rural Himalayas)
India is home to 1.2 billion people-the world’s largest democracy-and a bustling, vibrant, and culturally and historically rich country in the world’s Global South. One of India’s strongest resources are its people - an expanding workforce that is infinitely diverse across all 36 states and territories-but an increasing population is also one of the country’s biggest challenges. As a lower middle-income country, India continues to face enormous hurdles in poverty, malnutrition, access to education and basic healthcare, and gender inequalities. As of 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that healthy life expectancy at birth for Indians is 57 years for both males and females. Yet despite deeply embedded public health challenges, total expenditure on health in 2012 was a mere 4.1%, as reported by the WHO.
Learn about the challenges of providing adequate healthcare to rural, low-income populations, with 68% of India’s population living in rural areas. This program provides participants with a unique opportunity to encounter various diseases in clinical settings that represent the rural and urban divide in a developing country. The focus will be on primary care services and public health issues, with special emphasis on the needs of rural communities in India that lack access to healthcare. This global health opportunity also offers a window into improvements made in public health, through the persistence of health camps and widespread outreach efforts.
Students will travel through 3 locations throughout the program. The first 2 weeks will be spent in the northern state of Uttarkhand’s capital city of Dehradun, followed by 1 week in the hilltop town of Mussoorie, and the final week in the small rural village of Patti. Traveling to different locations allows participants to experience Indian healthcare through multiple lens, whether at a rural clinic conducting health in isolated Himalayan villages or participating in a village health and sanitation empowerment project.
Become immersed in Indian culture by living with a host family in Dehradun and shared accommodations in Mussoorie and Patti. CFHI participants may organize weekend trips to nearby towns such as Rishikesh - The Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas.
Private Nursing Home in Dehradun- This clinic offers inpatient and outpatient services. Shadow the Ob/Gyn who runs this facility serving only women. Accompany her on rounds and observe during surgical procedures.
Private Pediatric Hospital in Dehradun- Shadow our Dehradun Medical Director, Dr. Gandhi, in the Emergency Medicine and Cardiology ward at his private hospital. Accompany him on rounds and observe minor procedures.
Government Hospital in Dehradun- This facility provides eye care to the local population, including the marginalized. Shadow an ophthalmologist and eye surgeon in OPD and surgery.
Government Facilities in Dehradun- These include primary health care centers, community health centers and district hospitals. Observe the government’s effort to provide health services to low-income populations. Rotate through outpatient and other specialities.
Rural Clinic in Patti- The Patti outpatient clinic is located in a small, central village in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. CFHI participants will accompany health care workers on 2-4 hour treks to surrounding villages to conduct health camps. These trips are essential for providing health services to those who cannot come to the main clinic and a great way to get a glimpse of life in a small Himalayan mountain village. Take part in daily yoga sessions in this peaceful, breathtaking setting.
Community Hospital in Mussoorie - This multi-specialty teaching hospital was started by Methodist missionaries in 1938 to provide health services at low cost and attracts missionary doctors from around the world. Currently, it offers 35 beds and surgical, orthopedic, ob/gyn, dentistry, and emergency medicine services. Rotate in the outpatient department and shadow the attending physician in clinical rounds and case discussions. The hospital also runs rural health camps and community initiatives, including a village health and sanitation empowerment project and a community-based rehabilitation project for empowerment and inclusion of people with disabilities.
CFHI is considered a global health ethics leader therefore CFHI programs uphold strict standards and comply with all local laws regarding student involvement in health settings. Your experience on the program depends on your previous clinical training (if applicable), and the relationship you build with your supervising preceptor. Above all, YOU are the most important factor in making the CFHI experience as fulfilling as possible by being respectful, culturally humble, inquisitive, and open to the wide variety of learning experiences which you will encounter.
India is the 7th largest country in the world and one of the most populous, second only to China, with over 1.2 billion people. There are over 30 languages spoken across India’s 29 states and 7 union territories. The country is also the birthplace of 4 of the world’s major religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism-and home to 32 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. India boasts a rich history, vibrant and colorful culture, and diverse and magnificant landscapes, including architectural wonders like the Taj Mahal and Golden Temple.
This program is based in Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand state in northern India, roughly 4 hours north of New Delhi. The city of Dehradun is situated at an altitude of 1440 feet, nestled between the Himalayan foothills to the north and the Sivalik Hills to the south. It offers breathtaking scenery and serves as a convenient base for visiting the area’s many tourist sites.
Participants will also spend a week each in Mussoorie and Patti. Mussoorie is known as the “Queen of Hill Stations” and offers spectacular views of the Green Doon Valley and snow-capped peaked of the Himalayas. Patti is a small village in the foothills of the Himalayas just north of Dehradun, with a rugged, hilly terrain and lush greenery. Patti is great place to unwind, practice yoga, and trek along Himalayan footpaths.
Things to Do
CFHI participants have free time during most evenings and weekends and may choose to organize weekend trips to nearby destinations and take part in cultural activities offered in and around Dehradun.
On weekends, participants may want to explore the many religious sites located throughout the region, including Mindrolling Monastery and a large Buddhist monastery in the Tibetan Nyingma tradition, and visit the Taj Mahal in Agra or Golden Temple in Amritsar. Other popular tourist destinations include Jaipur, known as the Pink City of India, famous for its arts and crafts, most notably block printing, stone carving, and jewelry.
Accommodations & Homestays
Accommodations will be provided on a shared basis (2-3 students per room) and are clean, comfortable, and safe. The food provided in the program is traditional Indian vegetarian cuisine. Accommodations may vary depending on the number and location of students throughout the month.
In New Delhi, participants will stay overnight at a local guesthouse on the day of arrival, until travelling to Dehradun the following day. During the first two weeks in the city of Dehradun, participants will stay with local host families. In the village of Patti, you will be staying in a small apartment located in the village in the same building as the clinic (rustic accommodations). During your time in Mussoorie, you will stay at guest rooms at the hospital.
Eligibility: Who Can Apply?
This CFHI program is ideal for students and non-students of all levels and health disciplines and welcome anyone interested in and passionate about global health and medicine. In particular, this program will focus on challenges faced in providing adequate medical care in both urban and rural settings and deepening understanding of rural/urban divides. For more information, please read CFHI's general eligibility requirements.
Language Required: English
India is a multicultural and diverse country with over 30 different languages spoken by more than a billion native speakers. English and Hindi are considered the language of government and business and English is widely spoken by most professionals and used frequently in many business and academic settings.
Hindi is widely used in the northern region of India where Dehradun is located. CFHI staff in India and healthcare professionals at the various clinical and public health sites you will interact with communicate effectively in English. However, you will find that daily communication amongst locals and community members will be in Hindi.
Participants should arrive in New Delhi, India (Indira Gandhi International Airport) on the program start date. A CFHI representative will be there to pick you up from the airport.
Later that day, or the following day, contingent on local conditions, transportation will be provided to Dehradun either via train or other private transport. Upon arrival to Dehradun, a welcome orientation will take place, led by the Local Coordinator.
- Guidance from CFHI staff in San Francisco before departure
- Program-specific materials with information on making travel arrangements, visa requirements, recommended immunizations, etc.
- Airport pick-up upon arrival and transportation to accommodations in Delhi with local CFHI representative
- Transportation by train from Delhi to program site in Dehradun
- Transportation by car from Dehradun to rotations in Mussoorie and Patti
- Transportation from Dehradun to Delhi at end of the program
- Welcome orientation in Dehradun with other participants covering safety, transportation, and other logistics
- 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 in Dehradun, Mussoorie, and Patti
- Accommodations, including two meals per day in Dehradun, Patti and Massoorie
- Acommodations in Delhi upon arrival
- Local cell phone
- International emergency medical and evacuation insurance
- Airport drop-off in Delhi
- 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. Sanjay Gandhi- CFHI Dehradun Medical Director: The role of the Medical Director is to arrange clinical and public health placements, supervise the participant experience at these sites, and provide instruction on healthcare topics during weekly meetings. Dr. Gandhi runs a private clinic in Dehradun. He is trained in emergency medical services and caters to all kinds of medical emergencies, specifically cardiac and respiratory. He is a committed physician who enjoys working with CFHI participants and the local community.
Mayank Vats- CFHI Dehradun Local Coordinator: The role of the local coordinator is to organize housing, transportation, orientation and weekly meetings. Mayank is a great resource for any questions related to navigating Dehradun locale, cultural norms and tips on planning weekend travel. Mayank has worked with CFHI since 2007. He graduated from Prayagraj Allahabhad University in Dehradun and is currently pursuing a degree in Mass Communication. He views CFHI participants as “global ambassadors” and enjoys learning about their studies and culture. In his free time, Mayank writes poems in Hindi and English.
What Alumni Say
"My goals for the time in India were to obtain an understanding of the very complex Indian healthcare system and improve my Hindi skills. Both of these goals I was able to accomplish with my Hindi reaching the level of being able to interview patients towards the end of my time there. I have visited India many times in the past, but usually in the comfort of my grandparents’ large home in the metropolis of New Delhi. This time, I was able to see the country in a new light.
CFHI truly allowed me to truly get a taste of the many different levels of Indian healthcare. I was able to see patients in the city with hypertension all the way to patients in small villages who had been in farming accidents. With my Hindi skills and knowledge of the culture I began to connect with the Indian patient population. I was able to understand their problems and complaints in the greater context of Indian society and values. I was also able to closely see the many issues like pollution and poverty that plague India and became resolved to help in a more meaningful way as I develop the skills to become involved in global health in the future."
"My experiences in India, although sometimes uncomfortable, brought me to the realization of the reality of different challenges you can face while participating in global health. This trip was a positive, interesting, and enlighting experience."
-- Chetan Amar, June 2014 (Ohio State University College of Medicine, MS-2)
"We were provided the very best services for making the experience safe and meaningful, including comfortable living conditions, food, local coordinators who invest a generous amount of care into assuring student safety, and partnership with very competent and compassionate doctors. It is always the student's responsibility to make the best abroad experience, but CFHI provides services that are essential for this to happen in the first place."
-- Kimberly Steen, Wheaton College (MA), Pre-Health, June & July 2013
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: