Guide for visiting tropical medicine teachers and students

This document outlines the arrangements and preparations you will need to make before your trip to join us at the International Short Course in Clinical Tropical Medicine. We look forward to meeting you!

Please contact us at:

Infectious Diseases Training and Research Center
Christian Medical College (CMC)
Vellore, 632004,
Tel: 0091-0416-228-2804


Course Coordinators:

1. Dr. Priscilla Rupali,  CMC Vellore

2. Dr. Kristine Morch,  Haukeland Universitetssykehus Bergen, Norway
3. Dr. Michael Libman,  Canada

 Annual International Short course in Clinical Tropical Medicine

Our purpose is to introduce the clinical and laboratory practice of tropical medicine through lectures, bedside teaching sessions and laboratory practicals. We are interested in teaching physicians and nurses of all ages with experience in, or intention to practice tropical medicine all around the world. Tropical medicine deals with diseases endemic to tropical regions of the world and includes parasitic, bacterial, viral, fungal, insect and zoonotic syndromes. Tropical medicine deals with the challenging and rapidly evolving environment of the developing world. Travel medicine is a related field. This orientation package is designed to answer your questions about travel and living in Vellore during the course. We are sure you will enjoy your brief stay in our home! Wannakam!

Travel to Vellore:

Visa: Please enter India on a tourist visa. Your visa is your responsibility. Please plan ahead.

City: Vellore is located approximately halfway between Chennai and Bangalore. International and local flights will arrive at either airport and transportation can be arranged for the 3-4 hour drive to Vellore. CMC can arrange taxis to pick up visitors from either airport for a cost of upto Rs 2500 or more depending on vehicle size and air conditioning. If taking an airport taxi, use a prepaid taxi booked inside the airport. There are regular train and bus services. Trains should be booked in advance by travel agents because queues at the station will be long. Bus trips are not advised for first time visitors! Please plan to arrive in Vellore on time at least a day before the course begins. The earliest departures from Vellore should be planned in the evening on the last day after the exam. Cost of taxi from the airport does not include tip or food for the driver. A stop at a local restaurant may occur during the trip for tea or a meal. Be careful that your food is hot through and that your water bottle cracks on opening. If you decide to spend your first night in Chennai – please book the hotel online ahead of time. An auto-rickshaw or taxi can be taken from the airport. Many others will be available including five star hotels.

At the Airport:

Change traveller’s cheques or cash in the airport before going through customs - it is much easier to do it there than in Vellore and the exchange will be better. Try to persuade them not to give you all Rs 500 notes, and push for as much small change as you can! There are ATM’s in Vellore and most accept international credit and debit cards. Changing cash and travelers cheques in Vellore may be a challenge. Approximate exchange rates 1 Eur = 70.49 Rs 1 US$ = 55.02.5 Rs 1 GBP = 87.02 Rs 1 Can $ = 46.64 Rs 1 NOK = 9.27 Rs

Arriving in Vellore:

Vellore is a town of 500,000 built around one hospital. Not a tourist destination, most visitors are here because they are sick. Referral patients come from all over India. Plan to concentrate on learning while you are here, and do some travelling throughout India before or after the course. CMC is split into two campuses, hospital and college. Hospital campus is the first you will encounter on the way in. With 2700 beds and 6183 outpatients per day, CMC is a big place. The Infectious Diseases Training and Research Center is located just outside the hospital East “out” gate, above the State Bank of India, on the 4th floor.

Vellore Preparation :

Travel insurance including health cover Evacuation and Repatriation are wise precautions. If you get sick in Vellore then you are in the best place in India to be sick! Most medicines are readily available BUT not all. Bring your regular medications. Buy things like antibiotics and antimalarials malarone is not available here. Prepare with appropriate vaccinations. A visit to a travel health clinic prior to departure would be strongly advised. Hepatitis A and B are essential, as well as updated tetanus, diphtheria, polio, pertussis, measles, mumps and rubella. Typhoid exposure is very common, and Vi polysaccharide vaccine is advised. Rabies is widespread, so consider a primary series to avoid the cost and bother of rabies immunoglobulin following an exposure though it is available in CMC Vellore. Japanese encephalitis is rare and risk will be low. Cholera and yellow fever vaccines are not required. You will not need to carry clean injection supplies for Vellore, but for other Indian destinations it would be appropriate to take them yourself. Most ex-patriates do not take malaria chemoprophylaxis in Vellore as risk is low; however it is advisable to consistently use mosquito protection measures. If you are travelling from and to Orissa, Bihar, Jharkand, Chattisgarh or North-east India, strongly consider malaria prophylaxis, which can be purchased locally. Several prophylactic drugs need to be taken prior to departure to a malarious area, so consult your local travel clinic. CMC provides world class health services which you will be able to access on payment if you need them. Reimbursement would depend on your travel insurance policy regulations.


The course lectures will be held at the Infectious Diseases Training and Research Center, in an air conditioned lecture hall. Lunch will be catered  with fine Indian food. Coffee and tea are available, as are several broadband internet connected PC’s. * We have a library of infectious disease and tropical medicine resources at IDTRC and Dept. of Medicine I office. PLEASE BRING YOUR WIRELESS LAPTOP and access our local wireless network. Most lectures can be connected to real time and we would like to minimize paper usage. Our staff will assist in making your time here enjoyable.  Thumb drives with the lectures will be given if you are unable to bring laptops.

Laboratory practicals will be held in the clinical microbiology department, 8th floor of the ASHA building, across the street in hospital campus.

Bedside sessions are held in the various wards of the hospital.  Cases will be presented by our residents in English and the discussion will be then conducted by the preceptor. 

Course Content:

Our course is designed for physicians with a background understanding of infectious diseases. The academic pace of the course will be intense. Our lectures and laboratory practicals will be taught by world leaders in tropical medicine. Small group bedside teaching will be lead by one professor with one language helper/guide. Various wards and clinics in the hospital will be used. Patients will be those available to us at the time of the course. Students are encouraged to prepare for the course by reading a tropical medicine textbook. The course does not provide textbooks for each student. When that is not possible for the students to make the research paper in the very best way, they usually need the assistance from somebody else. It's our website that may supply the highest level of you to buy research papers. Research writing is not any difficult job for us. The course will provide a laboratory manual reference and handout of the lectures. Kindly look at recommended text books and reading material under links - resources. Please bring your own textbooks to the course.

Course materials including lecture slides will be available for download on the network. PAPER HANDOUTS WILL NOT BE PROVIDED.  So please bring your laptop as you could be connected real time with the speaker’s lecture. There will be an exam on the last day. All students are expected to write the exam. The exam will consist of short answer and multiple choice questions based on the lectures and lab practicals. There will be microscopic slides displayed for students to identify genus and species. Those that pass the exam will receive a “certificate of completion” and those who fail will be awarded a “certificate of participation” in the course. The student with the highest marks will be awarded the “Dr Dilip Mathai” award for excellence in Clinical Tropical Medicine.


Photography is permitted but a verbal informed consent is essential before taking photographs of patients. Please try and avoid photos with identifiers as far as possible. Please be sensitive to the social and cultural norms in CMC and the condition of the patient. We encourage photos to be posted on our shared network. Please acknowledge CMC Vellore for photos used in subsequent presentations.


Please remember that Indian culture is very modest and proper. Hospital dress is smart and foreign visitors wearing overly casual clothes (T shirts, jeans) are not well received. Women must have their shoulders and legs covered. It is very cheap to buy or tailor Indian salwar kameez (knee-length cotton dress with scarf over loose trousers). Western clothes for women will be very unusual in the hospital, so consider wearing local dress while you are here. If western clothes are worn, loose fitting tops to below the hips, with long skirts or long pants are best. Gentlemen should wear dark casual trousers and light short sleeved collared shirts with no tie. Dark sandals are acceptable.

Indian culture:

Indian physicians have tremendous clinical skills. Please approach India in a humble way, without trying to force your viewpoint while you are here. Generally, there is an unrecognized and logical underlying reason for the way things are done here. The Indian work week includes Saturday. The course will include a Saturday morning session. You will be expected to attend all sessions in the schedule.

Communication: IDTRC does not provide telephone services, but standard telephone dialing (STD) and international standard dialing (ISD) booths are available nearby. ISD Code: +91 (for India), STD: 416 (for Vellore town). We have access to an international fax machine, in the ASHA building. Email can be accessed from IDTRC. Ordinary mail to Europe or North America could take from 4 days to 2 weeks. Local language is Tamil, but ENGLISH IS WIDELY SPOKEN AND IS THE MEDIUM OF COMMUNICATION IN THE HOSPITAL. All teaching at the course will be done in English. Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam and several other Indian languages are widely spoken.


Please visit our lovely swimming pool in Bagayam, past the mental health center. There is a gymnasium and snack bar there. Day pass costs between Rs 150-200. Wear mosquito repellent!


January and February is part of our cool winter season. Expect dry conditions with daily temperatures up to 30 deg C , down to 20 deg C in the night.


(a)Travel kettle if you like hot drinks in your room. (b) Chocolate or other treats that you like.  (c)Tampons are not freely available. (d)Small padlock and chain to lock suitcases while travelling on trains. (e) A modest swimming costume for the pool (f) Hand sanitizer for personal use. You may not find all toiletries for sale here, but most soaps and shampoo are available. Toilet paper (carry your own everywhere you go in India).  Camera, plug adapters for 220V with three circular posts are a must. 


Local wear like salwar kameez are available at Namaste (a boutique inside the Bagayam swimming pool), Fabindia (Officer’s line vellore), Waves (virudhampet, katpadi) or material purchased could be stitched by any of the local tailors.

Silk saris can be purchased at Sumangali textiles, Vellore Silk House and AVM pattu center (Sarathi mansions – Vellore)

Gold and silver jewellery can be purchased at Joy Alukkas, Jos Alukkas, Nathella and Khazana jewellery.

Church services:

Come to our non denominational chapel service in the picturesque college chapel in the college campus on Sunday at 1800 hrs. The most popular church service is at the St John’s Anglican Church inside the fort which runs two services – daily 7.30 am and 9.30 am.

We would like to hear about your previous tropical medicine experiences at the banquet mid course. A very short presentation just 10 slides with pictures is welcome.

Tourist attractions

Local travel before or after the course could include the beaches, backwater boat trips and elephant rides of Kerala, the beaches of Mahabalipuram and the high-tech, western environment of Bangalore. The Golden temple in Sripuram and the Vellore fort campus which includes a mosque, church and temple in the same campus is also a local attraction.