As in most destinations, healthcare in Delhi is divided among private and government-run facilities, but both locals and expats generally opt to bypass the city's public hospitals and instead utilise private hospitals.

It’s generally easy to find well-qualified medical professionals in Delhi who speak English. Given the elevated level of treatment and practitioners in India, and the accompanying low cost of healthcare, medical tourism is an industry sector growing in popularity. In this way, many private hospitals are familiar in dealing with foreigners and are more than happy to better acquaint expats with their services and capabilities.

Private healthcare in Delhi

There are numerous private hospitals in Delhi, but not all meet the highest standards. While some hospitals lack attention to hygiene and patient care, some excellent, world-class medical facilities are available too. Keep in mind that waiting times tend to be long regardless of the hospital, even after scheduling an appointment. So be prepared to devote a few hours to a hospital visit.

The better hospitals in Delhi are well equipped with modern facilities and usually excel in certain areas, such as cardiology, oncology, minimally invasive surgery and orthopaedics. Otherwise, there are plenty of challenges that need to be addressed in the more mediocre institutions, such as proper accreditation, equipment quality and the qualifications of the doctors. It is best to stick to the hospitals frequented by other expats.

Since very few Indians actually have health insurance, the norm is to pay in cash, with most hospitals requiring a deposit or full payment in advance. Most private hospitals offer payment options by credit card or cash. Even holders of health insurance may be expected to pay some amount of advance deposit, so make sure to keep all receipts for reimbursement.

Private hospitals in Delhi

Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital

Address: Sector B, Pocket 1, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg,Vasant Kunj, New Delhi

Madhukar Rainbow Children's Hospital Delhi

Address: FC-29, Plot No.5, Geetanjali, Near Malviya Nagar Metro Station Gate No.1, New Delhi

Park Hospital

Address: Meera Enclave Outer Ring Road Near Kashopur, New Chaukhandi, Vishnu Garden, New Delhi

Primus Super Specialty Hospital

Address: Chandragupta Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi

Medicines and pharmacies in Delhi

There are many pharmacies around Delhi where treatment for minor ailments is usually available over the counter. Some of the medicines available go by the generic name, rather than the branded, labelled version expats may be accustomed to.

Pharmacies should be able to help customers with imported medicines and local substitutes, as long as one can provide the generic name (for example, ask for ibuprofen when looking for the equivalent of Advil).

Health insurance in Delhi

Although medical treatment in India is generally inexpensive, it is always best to have health insurance. Costs for complicated or emergency treatment can become expensive relatively quickly.

Expats can expect health insurance companies to cover treatment in a select number of hospitals; this selection usually includes one or two of the top facilities and service providers. However, coverage may be limited and the process of obtaining approval for certain treatments may be cumbersome. It's important to keep all receipts and collect all medical reports if needed for reimbursement from the insurance company.

Expats moving to India with a corporate employment contract are generally offered health insurance as part of their remuneration package, but coverage may be limited for family members.

Health hazards in Delhi

While expats do not need to be worried about contracting yellow fever or polio in Delhi, it is appropriate to be concerned about water-borne, food-borne and mosquito-borne illnesses.

Preventative measures should be taken, including using bottled water for drinking, ice and brushing teeth, or otherwise boiled and filtered water.

It's best to minimise opportunities for insect bites, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. If outside at these times, wear clothes that maximise coverage (full-length sleeves and long trousers for example).

Emergency services in Delhi

Expats will find that emergency and intensive care services are better in the larger, private hospitals than in government-run or smaller hospitals. Ambulance services are available at most hospitals; however, the services and treatment offered may vary in standard. Road congestion can also hamper the speed of pick-up, so be prepared to make other arrangements to get to the hospital, if need be. It is a common practice among locals to take those who require emergency care to the hospital in a private vehicle.

India's national emergency number is 112, and to call an ambulance, dial 102. Contact details for private emergency services are available on hospital websites.