India a Hub for Patients From Afghanistan


NEW DELHI – Three years ago, the family of Rohullah Afzali, 23, a medical student at a university in Herat in western Afghanistan, noticed changes in his behavior. He was often brooding, anxious and sometimes angry. He would stay awake for three, even four nights on end.

Doctors suspected he had a bipolar disorder and possibly even schizophrenia. But the medicines they prescribed weren’t helping. On subsequent visits to clinics and hospitals in Kabul, doctors told Mr. Afzali and his family that there were no options in Afghanistan for further treatment.

So the Afzalis did what hundreds of thousands of Afghans have done in recent years, which is to travel to New Delhi for treatment in the city’s private hospitals, which offer sophisticated treatment at far lower prices than in developed countries.

“India is famous in Afghanistan for its modern hospitals and availability of medicines,” said Boman Ali Afzali, the father of the medical student, in an interview earlier this week. “Everyone we spoke to told us success stories and suggested we come here.”

The staggering influx of Afghans traveling to Delhi is partially the result of India’s introduction of a special medical visa for Afghans in 2005. These medical visas are free and do not require applicants to provide financial statements or proof of medical insurance….

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