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Top 15 resolutions for a healthier and happier 2019

How often have we charted elaborate health resolutions at the start of the new year, only to see the vigour and enthusiasm fade away by February? If that sounds someone like you, we have something interesting here. Bite-sized resolutions!

So we list 15 easy-to-adopt lifestyle habits that will help you stay focused in your quest for a healthier and happier 2019. Here goes…

Bite 1: Stretch

Simple stretch exercises can help keep your muscles active and tightened, while enabling you to strengthen your core. You can engage in stretches every two hours or so, especially important for those who have desk jobs.

Bite 2: Meditate for composure 

Meditation is powerful. It can help calm your mind, soothe your senses and relax your body. In today’s world where pressure levels are high, meditation can help you lower your stress and attain inner peace. The beauty about meditation is that it can be practiced anywhere.

 Bite 3: Engage in daily 30-minute exercise

Shed excess sleep and a sedentary lifestyle for a more active one. Try to start with simple activities like walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or weight training. Importantly, have fun while doing so, which will ensure that you keep going.

 Bite 4: Get adequate sleep

Lack of sleep can lead to several health problems like weight gain, weak immunity and negative impact on brain health. Hence, getting adequate sleep of around eight hours is important. Furthermore, it is a good idea to have a brief shut-eye post-lunch, which will keep you energised for the rest of the day.

Bite 5: Drink a glass of water every morning when you wake up

Sipping a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning can be an excellent and easy habit to follow. Doing so will aid in digestion, help you lose weight and keep you fit all day.

Bite 6: Walk a thousand or more steps every day

Embrace the habit of walking. If you have a quick errand to make, chuck your two-wheeler and walk. If you’re going for a meeting, park your car a bit further from your destination so that you can walk. Walking doesn’t just help keep the metabolism in shape, it is also great for the heart, brain and joints. Get a fitness tracker to help keep a tab on your daily activities.

Bite 7: Never skip breakfast

Most nutritionists and fitness experts believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should never be missed. A healthy breakfast helps keep one remain full and active, while also curbing unwanted hunger pangs.

Bite 8: Limit your sugar consumption

Refined sugar is processed sugar, the consumption of which can lead to weight gain or high blood sugar levels. You can select healthy alternatives like jaggery, honey, coconut sugar or maple syrup. Also, try to avoid sugar in your morning tea or coffee.

Bite 9: Avoid packaged food

Take a pledge that you’ll avoid the consumption of packaged or processed foods as these have harmful preservatives and provide no nutritional value. Moreover, these foods can lead to weight gain and can be detrimental to your overall health.

Bite 10: Go for a fibre-rich diet

A diet high in fibre can have a great positive impact on your health. It can promote weight loss, smoothen digestion and help manage diabetes. High fibre foods include fresh fruit and green leafy vegetables, which should be essential components of your everyday diet.

Bite 11: Stick to your sleep timings

Those who are super busy have one thing common in their lifestyle – they keep to their sleep timings no matter whatever part of the world they are in. Good and consistent sleep habits have been linked to better mental health and improved weight loss.

 Bite 12: Avoid multi-tasking

Our brains have been designed to work better when we focus on just one job at time, rather than trying to multi-task. If you allow yourself to focus on just one thing at a time, you’ll see how much more you can accomplish. Also, getting your focus back is of great importance. For starters, try to brush your teeth with your left hand!

Bite 13: Get off that screen

With so much technology around us, chances are that all of us are peering into our e-gadgets and devices all the time. Research has proved that sustained exposure to the light emitted by these devices can have a negative impact on our vision. Hence, it is important to limit the usage of these devices. Also, strictly avoid browsing on your tablet/smartphone before sleeping.

Bite 14: Get yourself a rebounder

Jumping on a rebounder, a small circular trampoline that you can purchase from a sports shop, is considered to be a good all-round exercise and is thought to be more effective than running. Besides, jumping on the rebounder is fun too!

Bite 15: Embrace a preventive health culture

It is quite paradoxical that though lifestyle ailments are on the rise the world over, we still have a reactive rather than a preventive health culture. This stems from not prioritising our health. Hence, take a pledge to visit your doctor or medical practitioner once in six months at least for health screening.

Though it might sound cliched, it is true now than ever before: Health is wealth. So here’s wishing you a wealthy 2019!

The importance of awareness in cancer prevention

GD Assist

The paradox with cancer is that an estimated two-thirds of all cancers are preventable. However, the situation on the ground is so grim that according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States. Furthermore, across large swathes of the developing world, reports suggest that cancer is the most common affliction in deaths. In this context, experts have always opined that information and education are the keys to cancer prevention, early detection and to sound decision-making about treatment options. Doctors and other experts have often voiced that they’d rather prevent cancer, than have to diagnose, treat and cure it, because they could then save the patient of all the pain and agony of treatment.

Essentially, cancer prevention is all about awareness and this blog pivots on providing you with important insights relating to breast and liver cancer since October is primarily dedicated to creating awareness about these two common cancer types.

Breast cancer awareness

Thanks to largely stable incidence rates, improved treatment and outcomes, as well as early detection through screening, a woman’s risk of dying of breast cancer has dropped 39 per cent between the late 1980s and 2015, as per information by the American Cancer Society. However, despite this progress, there’s much more to be done. Breast cancer is still the second-leading cause of cancer death in women and there is still a large racial gap in mortality.

Causes of breast cancer

Numerous studies have indicated that alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer in women by as much as 7-10 per cent for each one drink of alcohol consumed per day on average. Moreover, it has also been confirmed that obesity enhances the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer. Risk is about one and a half times higher in overweight women and about two times higher in obese women than in lean women. In this scenario, growing evidence suggests that women who get regular physical activity have a 10-25 per cent lower risk of breast cancer, compared to women who are inactive. Research has also pointed to the fact that smoking may slightly increase breast cancer risk, particularly long-term heavy smoking and among women who start smoking before their first pregnancy.

Common symptoms

Mindfulness is the most potent medication and though October is widely considered to be the ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’ (pink ribbon), a worldwide annual campaign highlighting the importance of breast awareness, education and research, one should be vigilant year-round for prevention and symptoms.

As in all other cancers, the earlier breast cancer is diagnosed the better is the chance of successful treatment. Hence, it is important for women to check their breasts regularly. Though there’s no special technique and one doesn’t need training,one only needs to be mindful about spotting anything unusual. A common guidance is that women should check the whole area, including upper chest and armpits.If one spots any changes, it is essential to get checked by your doctor as soon as possible. Essentially, lumps are important to look for and can be the first symptom of breast cancer for many women. Regular screenings by experts can also go a long way in early detection. It is also important to put forth the fact that having some of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean one has breast cancer. However, it is crucial to get checked to take the worry out of the equation.

Reducing risks

Although many things influence the risk of developing breast cancer (including genes and ageing, which are typically beyond one’s control), lifestyles can play a part too and making small alterations can go a long way in reducing risks. Leading a healthy lifestyle by limiting alcohol consumption, keeping to a healthy weight and being physically active can certainly help lower the chances of the affliction. It doesn’t take much time or effort to stack the odds in your favour against this lethal ailment.

>> One can reduce their risk of breast cancer by being physically active for around 20 minutes a day

>> One can reduce their risk by limiting the amount of alcohol consumed

>> One can reduce their risk after menopause by maintaining a healthy weight

>> One can reduce their risk by taking an informed decision about HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and contraceptive pills

Liver cancer awareness

The liver is one of the largest organs in the body. It filters harmful substances from the blood, produces bile that helps in digestion and stores sugar that the body uses for energy. There are two types of primary liver cancer in adults – hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of adult primary liver cancer with its incidence rising in relation to the spread of Hepatitis-C virus (HCV) infection. The grim finding is that the five-year survival rate is just about 18 per cent and hence awareness about liver cancer is the most critical in timely prevention and eventual treatment. Hence, October is dedicated as the ‘Liver Cancer Awareness Month’ (emerald green ribbon).

Causes of liver cancer

Having Hepatitis-B, Hepatitis-C or cirrhosis are significant risk factors for adult primary liver cancer. Liver cancer is more common in men than in women and represents the growth and spread of unhealthy cells in the liver. Cancer that originates in the liver is referred to as primary liver cancer. Cancer that spreads to the liver from another organ is referred to as metastatic liver cancer. HCC is the most common type of primary liver cancer and is on the rise around the world.

Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) caused by too much alcohol use or infections with Hepatitis-B or C are largely representative of the causes of liver cancer. Significantly, about 80 per cent of primary liver cancers around the globe are caused by infection with Hepatitis-B or Hepatitis-C virus. Infection with this virus can affect one for many years and result in cirrhosis in the liver. Individuals can get infected through physical contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person who has the virus in their body, with the infection caused by unprotected sex, sharing of unsterilized needles and blood transfusion (today, donated blood is mostly screened for the virus).

Common symptoms

Liver cancer presents a special challenge in the identification of symptoms because one may not notice any symptoms when the disease is starting and in its early stages. However, some common symptoms to keep an eye on include:

>> Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (a typical symptom of jaundice)

>> Darkening of the urine

>> Lightening in the colour of the stool

>> An overall feeling of lethargy, fatigue

>> Loss of usual appetite and weight loss

>> Swelling of the legs and abdomen

>> Pain or discomfort in the abdomen

With the symptoms neither being very evident nor visible, it is important that one gets an accurate diagnosis of primary liver cancer so that their condition can be treated the right way from the very beginning.

Reducing risks

Because primary liver cancer caused by viral Hepatitis tends to develop over the course of two to three decades, there are steps one can take to get screened for the infection and prevent it from advancing. One can lower their risk of developing liver cancer by embracing such healthy lifestyle measures as regular exercise, controlling weight and eating a healthy diet with limited amounts of alcohol. Furthermore, it is also important to avoid infection with the Hepatitis-B and C viruses. Vaccines for Hepatitis-B are available for children and adults. However, if one has chronic Hepatitis-B, they might be a candidate for antiviral therapy, which can considerably slow down the progression of liver disease and decrease (although not fully eliminate) the risk of liver cancer. While there is no vaccine for Hepatitis-C, the right treatment can eliminate the virus in most people.

Other liver cancer risk factors

In addition to infection with chronic Hepatitis-B and C, the following main conditions increase the risk of developing liver cancer.

>>Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: This disease causes triglycerides (fats) to gather in the liver, which can lead to its damage. It commonly occurs in overweight/obese individuals or who have type-2 diabetes or a metabolic syndrome characterized by high blood sugar, extra body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. With obesity on the rise, this has increasingly emerged as a risk factor for liver cancer.

>>Cirrhosis of the liver made worse by alcohol use: Alcohol consumption significantly increases the risk of cancer in individuals infected with the Hepatitis-B or C virus and hence it is important to avoid drinking if one has viral Hepatitis.

>>Exposure to arsenic: This naturally-occurring substance is sometimes found in drinking water. It is also a part of vinyl chloride, a chemical used in making certain plastics that can increase one’s risk of liver cancer.

Armed with this information, we hope that you become more aware about these cancers and also play an active role in your community/society to raise awareness and help thwart the occurrence of an ailment that is easily preventable.

GD Assist

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email: gdal@green-delta.com

Website:  gdassist.com

Durga Pujo festivities are here!

It is that time of the year when even the most laid-back Bengali will become the most energetic member of his para. It is that time of the year when even the most mundane spaces in the city of Kolkata will magically transform into mesmerising art-scape. It is that time of the year when even the strictest diets will make way for extended pet pujo. Yes, it is that time of the year when you have to be in Kolkata to experience the chaotic, charming, enchanting and endearing Durga Pujo festivities!

A primer to the Pujo

Durga Pujo is a celebration of the Mother Goddess and the victory of the revered warrior Goddess Durga over the evil demon Mahishasura. The festival honours the powerful female force in the universe. Durga Pujo is celebrated in West Bengal, particularly in the city of Kolkata. In fact, it is the biggest and most important occasion of the year in the region. Besides, Bengali communities in other locations across India and the world celebrate Durga Pujo too. Notably, the dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar and the Durga Pujo is celebrated during the last five days of Navaratri and Dussehra. For you to mark your dates, for 2018, Durga Pujo will take place from October 15 to October 18, followed by the grand immersion of the Durga idols on October 19.

Experiencing Durga Pujo first-hand

If you want to experience Durga Pujo fully, you should be in Kolkata ideally at least a week before the festival starts so that you can witness the artistic finishing touches being put on the idols of the goddess. The Kumartuli area (literally meaning potters’ locality) of north Kolkata is where most of the idols are made and a trip to the lanes and by-lanes of this historic neighbourhood will help you witness the creative flourish that artisans and craftsmen here are renowned for. However, despair not if you are not able to visit Kolkata just before the festivities begin. For there are still plenty of other ways to enjoy the festival.

The easiest way to participate in the celebrations is to take a Durga Pujo festival tour, such as the ones organised by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation. These tours normally have guides who are seeped in the history of the Durga Pujo in the State and will regale you with anecdotes as you walk past the various famous installations across Kolkata. These guides will also provide you with a slice of history of the para area and will also ensure that you savour local snacks and savouries like the jhaal murioralu-bhaaja or fuchkaa. Alternatively, for a more leisurely experience, you can also take one of the especially-curated pujo tours organised by the Calcutta Tramways. Sitting comfortably in a decorated tram, you can meander your way through the city, halting at spots that have must-see pandals.

Because there are hundreds of pandals in Kolkata, it’s only possible to visit a fraction of them and touring even these requires careful planning as they’re spread all over the city. However, you’ll find the most well-known ones in north and south Kolkata, which is conveniently connected by the Metro railway. The most popular time for pandal hopping is in the night when the installations are all lit-up. However, you must contend with the crowds, which though are generally orderly.  Some of the famous idols and pandals that should be in your itinerary include those in Baghbazar, Kumartuli Park, College Square, Mohammad Ali Park, Santosh Mitra Square, Badamtala Ashar Sangha, Jodhpur Park and Sitala Bose Mandir. While these are fairly well-dispersed across the city, you can also take time out to visit the smaller pandals along the way, which are also dressed in particular themes and have a rich story to tell.

While Kolkata’s public Durga Pujos tend to get all the attention, the traditional ‘Bonedi Bari’pujas in the city’s palatial private mansions are also worth experiencing. The mansions belong to affluent aristocratic zamindar (landowner) families who have been continuing with their traditional household pujas for centuries. Such households are spread out across Kolkata, as well as other major towns in Bengal, including Murshidabad. However, two of the most famous ones in Kolkata include the Sovabazar Raj Bari and the Rani Rashmoni Bari.

Witnessing other Pujo ceremonies

While pandal-hopping is an essential element of the Durga Pujo, one can also attend the ‘Kola Bou Bath’ ceremony. The auspicious start to the Durga Pujo commences with the invocation of the holy presence of Goddess Durga into the idols. The ritual begins early in the morning before dawn, with the bathing of a banana tree in the mighty Hooghly River. According to the rituals, the banana tree is dressed like a newly-wed bride (known as ‘Kola Bou’ or the banana bride) in a sari and is used to transmit the goddess’s energy. The best places to attend the ritual are Prinsep, Baghbazar and Ahiritola ghats, which are all well-connected with the various parts of the city.

The last day of the Durga Pujo, known as Dashami, which is also a sad day on the calendar as the festivities come to an end, the rituals commence with married women placing red sindoor (powder) on the idols of Goddess Durga. They then smear it on each other with chants and intonations. This part of the ceremony is often referred to as sindoor khela.  In the evening, the idols are immersed in the waters. One of the most popular immersion points is Babu Ghat (centrally located near the famed Eden Gardens), although you’ll be able to catch the action at any of the ghats along the river. An excellent way of seeing it is by boat. Yet again, the state’s tourism department operates special immersion boat cruises down the river.

Durga Pujo also means pet pujo

There is never a better time to sample Kolkata’s famous Bengali cuisine than Durga Pujo. The festival isn’t considered to be complete without food and one can find a wide array of it everywhere – on the streets, at the pandals and in specialty Bengali restaurants.  Food served to visitors in the pandals is called bhog (offerings to the god, which is distributed). It commonly consists of mixed vegetable curry, a sweet dish, a fried item and chutney. Furthermore, Kolkata’s Bengali restaurants have exclusive Durga Pujo menus packed with authentic delicacies. Some of the restaurants that you should try out include Bhojohari Manna, Saptapadi, The Bhoj Company, Kasturi and Kewpie’s Kitchen, among others.

So, visit Kolkata during the Durga Pujo and come back with memories of a lifetime – and yes, with overflowing shopping bags too!

GD Assist

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email: gdal@green-delta.com

Website:  gdassist.com

Impact of surgical costs on your financial health

Homemaker Khatoon Reza, 55, felt acute chest pain and upon investigation, it was found that she had coronary artery disease, which entailed the removal of the accumulated plaque in her arteries. Though her bypass surgery costs were principally covered under her medical insurance, yet she had to pay to out-of-network medical service providers. She did not have this information beforehand and was taken by surprise with the amount she had to pay out of her own pocket.

Before his three-hour neck surgery for herniated disks a few months ago, Shadab Mohammad, 49, signed a pile of consent forms. A finance professional at a large consumer goods company, Shadab was blindsided at the total anaesthesia and surgery bills that he received from the hospital. Though he had done some calculations, he was shocked at how divergent the total tally was. Though he had regained his neck movement, his financial health was put to risk. Worse, he had no choice and no negotiating power.

Khatoon and Shadab are among the large number of people who either do not seek full information prior to a critical surgery, or become victims of expenses related to surgical care that have a devastating impact on their finances. Notably, while people in high-income countries face minimal financial risks arising out of surgical care, the situation is alarming in middle-income and low-income countries.

Surgical costs and the negative financial impact

Because of the typically high costs associated with surgical care, paying for surgery out-of-pocket, commonly known as self-pay, can be incredibly expensive and, in most cases, unaffordable too. As the tables below indicate, the risk of catastrophic/impoverishing expenditure for surgical care can have a severe negative impact on household finances, often pushing the masses into poverty. People living in low- and middle-income countries are especially vulnerable as they find themselves at the confluence of relatively low incomes on the one hand and high surgical costs on the other. This is in stark contrast to the wealthy who face no such financial risks because of their affluence.

Risk of catastrophic expenditure for surgical care (% of people at risk)

  2008 2017
High-income 2.1 1.7
Low-income 71.5 65.4
Middle-income 36.3* 30.3
World 33.8 28.1

Risk of impoverishing expenditure for surgical care (% of people at risk)

  2008 2017
High-income 0.4 0.4
Low-income 74.5 72.9
Middle-income 27.9* 23.8
World 26.9 23.6

* Figures for 2013; worldbank.org

Catastrophic expenditure is defined as direct out-of-pocket payments for surgical and anaesthesia care exceeding 10 per cent of the total income. Impoverishing expenditure is defined as direct out-of-pocket payments for surgical and anaesthesia care that have the potential to drive people below a poverty threshold (using a threshold of $1.25 PPP/day).

Medical tourism to the rescue

In the face of growing financial risks associated with surgery, one can easily reduce this risk by opting for surgery in international destinations. Popularly referred to as medical tourism, the biggest benefit that the patient can have out of this is true affordability. For instance, surgery in countries like India, Thailand, Singapore or Malaysia is almost always less expensive – as much as 75 per cent less than what the procedure would cost in the US, and that too with similar medical outcomes. In addition to benefits associated with affordability, the attractiveness of these global medical tourism destinations on international patients is anchored on several other factors:

  • One, high quality medical staff credentials; in some cases, the surgeons are themselves trained in outstanding American facilities
  • Two, highly accredited hospitals
  • Three, state-of-the-art medical equipment and infrastructure
  • Four, teams exclusively assigned to international patients; in some hospitals, translation services are also available
  • Five, robust post-operative care dispensed by well-trained staff
  • Six, minimal wait times through quicker patient admission

Hence, considering the immense benefits of medical tourism, one can now access high-quality surgical care at costs that are truly affordable. With medical tourism, surgery can be well within the reach of most.

Insurance can also help unlock quality surgical care for most

Though there are multiple benefits of health insurance, the one that can be singled-out as truly the most useful is its ability to enhance mass access to quality medical care.

Today, there exists a large number of insurance plans and policies that help provide a protective cover for a vast spectrum of healthcare needs. Thanks to competition and technology-enabled lower costs, insurance plans are affordable while providing a cover that is large enough to take care of most hospital expenses, without the patient having to pay much out of his pocket. Furthermore, some insurance companies even pay for medical tourism for necessary procedures, thus providing the patient with dual benefits. Moreover, top-up insurance policies are also beneficial as they help extend the medical cover and prevent the need for self-pay. Thus, health insurance represents an effective route to access quality medical care.

A word of caution: You should select your health insurance provider after careful consultations. The key points to note include an understanding of what is covered in the insurance policy, whether insurance is cashless or reimbursable and how large is the insurance provider’s hospital network.

Useful ideas on lowering your surgical costs

Some of the most common types of surgeries include appendectomy, breast biopsy, carotid endarterectomy, cataract surgery, coronary artery bypass, free skin graft, hysterectomy, low back pain surgery and mastectomy, etc. It is always a good idea to determine how you can best lower the cost of your surgery before you even have the procedure. First, it is always better to ask questions to those who have undergone a surgical procedure before. This will provide you with first-hand and first-rate information on what to expect before you yourself undergo the procedure.

Furthermore, you should also find out where the procedure will cost you the least, without hampering the outcome in any way. Here, a reputed medical tourism service provider can be of significant help as they would be able to offer consultation on options from all the different medical tourism destinations of the world. Furthermore, this company would also be able to help you in choosing the right insurance product as surgical care requires the services of everyone providing care, including from anaesthesia to the surgeon, to the hospital and pharmacy, which means that these have to be in-network for your insurance to provide the maximum benefit to you.

GD Assist is a longstanding medical tourism company with a robust hospital network in the top medical tourism destinations of India, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Now GD Assist is offering EMI facility to its valuable clients. The GD Assist clients can now get their treatment done without leaving a scar on their wallet. This is another way to take care of your financial health.

So if you have any queries on surgical care or on any other healthcare-related issues, we invite you to get in touch with us.

After all, who doesn’t want to lead a pain-free life.

GD Assist

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email: gdal@green-delta.com

Website:  gdassist.com

Importance of deciding the best doctor for your treatment

Though healthcare choices are highly personal, most would agree that excellence and expertise in medical care is crucially important. On the contrary, inadequate screenings during routine check-ups and subpar treatment of critical illnesses may result in inferior care and can have costly and tragic results. This exercise underscores an important realisation: In curing patient, top doctors can have an enormous impact – so much so that the hospital in which they practice generally do not tend to have much of an influence on the outcome.

Also, the practice of shortlisting the hospital first, however reputed it might be, may be a decision against a favourable healthcare outcome, as the hospital might not have healthcare specialists who are renowned for a particular medical speciality. Hence, it is much more important to shortlist the doctor first. As it is, the reputation of the doctor will precede everything else and chances are that he/she will be practicing only in the top hospitals that are equipped with the most modern healthcare infrastructure and facilities. Hence, identifying the right medical specialist will take care of the choice of a high-quality hospital but, conversely, shortlisting a top hospital first may leave a question open on the quality of its resources, especially for a particular medical domain.

For patients visiting top doctors and healthcare specialists, the value of receiving first-class medical care is measured in the quality of the treatment, in a longer life span and also in a financial outlay that is anchored on affordability. Extraordinary examples exist everywhere that demonstrate the point that finding the best doctor can make a significant difference in a patient’s life.

Consider the following case studies.

Rahman, in his early sixties and carrying a few extra pounds, needed a knee surgery. So he chose a physician who practiced near his home. Two years after his operation, he still uses a cane much of the time. A few months ago, his family forced him to visit a specialist. To his dismay, he was told that his earlier surgery had gone wrong and if it was done right, he would be walking upright and without any support.

Parul was examined by her local physician, who advised her that lumps in her breast were likely malignant and recommended an immediate mastectomy. However, closer investigation by a specialist revealed that the lumps were in fact benign and Parul could thus avoid the cost, trauma and pain of a radical mastectomy.

Farookh, a manager at a financial services firm, developed a problem in his left eye. A local ophthalmologist identified glaucoma and told him that he needed immediate surgery. However, Farookh took a second opinion by visiting a top specialist who has been successfully treating him with eye drops ever since.

In curing patients, top doctors can have an enormous impact – so much so that the hospital in which they practice generally do not tend to have much of an influence on the outcome. 

A highly regarded medical specialist is one who has undergone rigorous training, possesses longstanding experience and is vastly respected by his/her peers and the medical fraternity at large. Also important is the fact that he/she constantly upgrades his/her knowledge to remain at the cutting-edge in the world of medicine and on top of their professions. This is especially vital as expertise and leading-edge technology are both particularly important in diagnosing and treating such common modern-day ailments as cancer, stroke and cardiovascular afflictions. Also, administered by a top doctor, sophisticated techniques can help alleviate the sufferings of patients and have higher cure rates,specifically for cancer.

One of the other important characteristics of a top healthcare professional that could help you determine him/her as the best medical resource for your treatment dwells in his/her ability  to empower patients. For instance, in cases where other physicians will force the elderly to avoid, say heart surgery, a top doctor may be able to counsel them with his insights, wisdom and track record and operate on them and achieve excellent outcomes. Also, stroke victims, in the hands of a top professional, can recover to an excellent degree that was earlier impossible to achieve. Moreover, world-class neurosurgeons can deal with bleeding strokes that were formerly considered to be inoperable. The bottomline: The differences between the ‘most-skilled’ and the ‘less-skilled’doctors/surgeons are as much striking as theyare remarkable and top doctors can help patients in ways that are far superior than those provided by others in the medical community.

But while patients intuitively know this to be true, most lack the resources to make the best choices when they fall ill. Many of them rely on referrals from the family physician; yet, even a trusted and competent physician may not be the best source of information. Doctors are busy with their practicesand their referral contacts are usually restricted to their network. Moreover, few have time to research who is the best for a particular procedure or medical problem. That often leaves patients exposed to a key health risk – that of making an important decision based on information that may not be fully accurate.
The differences between the ‘most-skilled’ and the ‘less-skilled’ doctors/surgeons are as much striking as they are remarkable and top doctors can help patients in ways that are far superior than those provided by others in the medical community.

Today, an independent assessment of medical care is more important than ever before. Why? Simply because of inherent vested interests. Pharmaceutical companies are obligated to those physicians who are prescribers of their drugs. Many publications and online resources recommend healthcare providers who pay to get their names mentioned. To several health insurers, a physician’s charges are often a more important factor than quality. Hence, in this scenario, it is crucial for a patient to heed the advice of a specialist who has no such conflicts of interest and who’s core purpose is to help patients find healthcare providers who deliver superior results.

In the context of the criticality of selecting the right medical specialists, general citizens might not have the information of shortlisting top doctors catering to their requirements. They might have to rely on third-party opinions, which might also be inaccurate.

To help mitigate this risk and to connect a patient’s specific medical condition with a top specialist who can then recommend the right treatment course for early and effective cure, healthcare tourism companies like GD Assist are at the forefront to solve this challenge faced by most patients. GD Assist possesses a rich database of top doctors and hospitals in most of the prominent medical tourism hubs of the world and in every medical specialty. This rigorously-selected list is based on professional assessments and not on unreliable third-party commentary or other such sources. Importantly, GD Assist’s intensive doctor selection methodology is designed to identify specialists who will speed patients’ healing, minimise pain and discomfort, shorten recovery periods and enhance and lengthen lives. In other words, help patients achieve the best possible health outcomes.

GD Assist’s intensive doctor selection methodology is designed to identify specialists who will speed patients’ healing, minimise pain and discomfort, shorten recovery periods and enhance and lengthen lives.

So call GD Assist today for an appointment. For in matters relating to healthcare, one cannot take a gamble.

GD Assist

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email: gdal@green-delta.com

Website:  gdassist.com

The importance of including organic food in your daily diet

A number of our readers would have heard about organic food but might not be exactly aware as to what it is. In a simple definition, organic foods are those that have been grown or farmed without the use of artificial chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, insecticides), hormones, antibiotics or even genetically modified organisms (GMO). In short, organic foods are derived from the ‘organic’ way by which they are produced.

In order to be labelled ‘organic’, a food product must be free of artificial food additives, which includes artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colouring and flavouring agents and monosodium glutamate (MSG).Organic crops are grown using natural fertilizers like manure and other such substances to improve plant growth. Animals raised organically are also not injected with antibiotics or hormones. The most commonly produced organic foods include fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. However today, there is also the advent of other processed organic products, such as cookies and breakfast cereals.

The bottom line

Evidence suggests that organic foods offer many health benefits. For example, several lab studies found that their higher antioxidant content helped protect cells from damage. Animal studies showed that organic diets may benefit human reproduction and the immune system. Besides, observational studies in humans have linked organic foods to lower the risk of allergies and eczema. In short, organic foods ensure that we are not eating a steady diet of pesticides and preservatives, which can have a long-term negative impact on our health.

Detailed health benefits of organic food

In the very way in which organic foods are produced/farmed, there is evidence that foods grown organically may be more nutritious. So here are some points on organic foods that empower human health.

Organic foods contain less chemicals with more bacteria-resistance

Because organic foods avoid artificial chemicals, evidence suggests that consuming these can reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. One study found that levels of cadmium, an extremely toxic metal, were 48 per cent lower in organic produce. In addition, pesticide residues were four times more likely to be found in non-organic crops.

Though cadmium and pesticide residue levels in conventionally-grown produce were still well below safety limits, experts caution that cadmium can accumulate over time in the body, causing potential harm. Also, since organic farming does not use antibiotics in animals, these products generally contain lower levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Inference: Organic foods can reduce exposure to toxins, pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Organic foods contain more nutrients

Several studies have revealed that organic foods generally contain higher levels of antioxidants and certain micronutrients, such as vitamin-C, zinc and iron. Also, antioxidant levels can be up to 69 per cent higher in these foods.

One study also found that organically-grown berries and corn contained 58 per cent more antioxidants and up to 52 per cent higher levels of vitamin-C. What’s more, one study reported that replacing regular fruit, vegetables and cereals with organic versions could enrich the diet with extra antioxidants, which is comparable to eating 1-2 extra helpings of fruit and vegetables daily. Besides, organic plants produce more of their own protective compounds, which explains the higher levels of antioxidants in these plants, thereby obviating the need of chemical pesticides use on them.

Inference: Organically-grown crops have more antioxidants and vitamins that are good for health.

Organic dairy and meat carry a more favourable fatty acid profile

Organic milk and dairy products can contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and slightly higher amounts of iron, vitamin-E and some carotenoids. Moreover, a review found that organic meat contained higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and slightly lower levels of saturated fats than conventional meat. A higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart diseases.

Inference: Organic dairy and meat can prevent the occurrence of heart ailments.

Organic foods have lower nitrate levels

As revealed by studies, organically-grown crops have as much as 30 per cent lower nitrate levels. High nitrate levels are not only linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer but also to a condition called methemoglobinemia, a disease that impacts the body’s ability to carry oxygen.

Inference: Organically-grown crops can reduce the risk of lifestyle ailments like cancer.

Did you know?

Organic farming is good for the environment too as it tends to improve soil quality, helps in ground water conservation and contributes to reduce pollution.

How to identify organic foods

Go to any modern-day supermarket and you’ll find racks dedicated to organic foods. Pick up a pack and see if it has been labelled ‘Certified Organic’, or see if it has an appropriate equivalent seal, which means that it meets stringent requirements in terms of how it’s produced and processed. These include:

No processing with industrial solvents or irradiation

No synthetic pesticides

No chemical fertilizers

No GMOs

No hormones or preventive antibiotics

Year-round grazing access for livestock, also fed a non-GMO diet

Organic whole foods are among the healthiest one can buy because they nourish our cells without dousing them in energy-lowering chemicals. However, one should keep in mind that the organic restrictions around pesticides and fertilizers don’t mean that farmers don’t use them at all. They do and it is just that the products have to be derived from natural sources and approved by certifying agencies. Hence, the takeaway is that even if your produce is organic, you still need to give it a thorough washing and cleaning before consumption.

Key take-home message

Organic foods can contain more antioxidants and nutrients than regular food, providing straightaway health benefits. Consuming organic food may also reduce exposure to artificial chemicals, hormones and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. So go ahead, include organic foods into your daily diet. Because watching what you eat ought to also include knowing what you eat ate!

GD Assist

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email: gdal@green-delta.com

Website: gdassist.com

Ill-effects of plastic on human health

A doctor’s narration of an incident of a patient with symptoms of lung and stomach infection, frequent stomach ache, loose motion and distension underwent every possible investigation. Finally, it was discovered that he had stomach cancer, the cause of which was the presence of excess bisphenol in his blood stream. Unfortunately, by the time it was detected, is was too late.

How is this connected to plastic, you may ask? Well, research suggests that all plastics leach chemicals if they are scratched or heated. At certain exposure levels, of some chemicals in plastic products, such as bisphenol, can cause cancer. The link is hence clear: Plastic chemicals can cause cancer.

This post describes the detrimental impact of plastic on human health and underscores precautions that may help readers protect their health against the adverse effects of plastic.

The utility of plastic requires a hard rethink

Unwittingly, we come into contact with plastic almost every day. We drink water out of plastic bottles, use plastic straws to consume beverages, use plastic containers and cutlery to eat food and use plastic cups to drink tea/coffee. The point is that plastics last for up to 400 years because it is non-biodegradable. When exposed to the sun and with the temperatures hitting peaks in the summers, the chemical cocktail comprising plastic micro-granules starts shedding toxins into the water within minutes of exposure, making human ingestion of plastics a reality.

In the plastics lifecycle chain, let’s start with its negative impact of its manufacture. Toxic chemicals released during the manufacturing process have a severe negative environmental impact. A whole host of carcinogenic, neurotoxic and hormone-disruptive chemicals are standard waste products of plastic production and it finds its way into our ecology inevitably. Some of the more familiar compounds include vinyl chloride, dioxins, benzene and bisphenol-A.

In first phase, though most plastics are benign, many release toxic gases in their formulation. In the final phase, the disposal of plastics has a high ecological impact with their resistance to decomposition – a great liability. This problem is compounded by the fact that only a tiny amount of the total plastics production is recycled. The rest is either dumped into landfills or despatched to incinerators where its toxic compounds are spewed in the surrounding ecosystem. Effectively, with the disposal thus, the harmful impact of plastic is amplified as it bio-accumulates in large concentrations up the food chain and right into our diets. The harmful chemicals released are known to cause such severe health problems as cancer, endometriosis, neurological damage, endocrine disruption, birth defects, child developmental disorders, reproductive damage, immune damage, asthma and multiple organ damage.

Human consumption of plastic

It has been found that mismanaged waste is particularly challenging in fast-growing countries, such as India, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh, is leading to severe levels of plastic pollution.

Recently, things have come to such that the planet is awash in products spawned by the plastics industry. Toxic plastics, health-bisphenol-A(BPA) along with phthalates, are used in many everyday resources, including plastic bottles and food packaging materials. Their constant contact allows residues of plastic to become ubiquitous in our bodies. Moreover, the route to ingestion of plastic in humans is also through the consumption of contaminated fish and other marine mammals, as these aquatic creatures consume polystyrene components as they sink lower into the oceans.

Plastic alternatives

The use of plastic bags is considered as one of the greatest health and civic issues that humans are facing today. Cities such as China have banned the use of plastic. Bangladesh and India have banned the use and sale of polythene bags that have thickness of less than 50 microns. Moreover, there is a rising global voice against the use of plastic straws that are produced in the billions the world over.

One of the most effective and obvious ways to reduce the impact of plastics and its derivatives, including plastic bags, is to progressively stop its use. While one recognises the need for plastic products, we must select plastic alternatives, examples of which include using paper/cloth bags and paper straws, etc. These products have the benefits of being non-petroleum in feedstock and, most importantly, are biodegradable.

Common precautions against plastic

We should choose plastic bottles carefully. Pick up such a bottle and turn it upside down. On its base you will find a recycling code that looks like a triangular arrow around a number. Avoid the numbers 3, 6 and 7. Plastics, especially with the number 7, contain BPA.

One should also not microwave food or drinks that are stored in plastic containers even if they carry the tag of being ‘microwave-safe’. Heat can breakdown plastics and release chemical additives into the food and beverages stored in the containers. Moreover, microwaves heat unevenly, creating hot spots where the plastic is more likely to breakdown. Also, for protecting oneself from plastic contamination, it is best not to have a diet that consists mainly of fish since most of it is probably contaminated.

Some of the other ways by which one can circumvent the use of plastic include:

    • Avoiding plastic bags (including for snacks and food storage)
    • Avoiding disposable straws (reusable straws made from stainless steel or bamboo are widely available)
    • Choosing a jute or cotton (cloth) bag for carrying purposes
    • Choosing glass containers for storage
    • Choosing a non-plastic toothbrush made from bamboo or flax
    • Avoiding disposable plastic bottles by using one’s own reusable bottle instead

Besides, one of the most effective and conscious things we could do to protect our fragile ecosystem is to be responsible for our trash. The average person disposes half a pound of plastic waste every day. Besides, governmental regulation also needs to be more structured and clear to alter plastic use/consumption habits.

Tip: Studies have found that gooseberry/amla has shown to be effective in preventing and lessening the toxic effects of chemicals in the body and represent effective detox preparations. Also, regular sweating and exercising helps one get rid of harmful chemicals and minerals from the body.

So go ahead, create a plastic-free life for yourselves and others around you.
Website: www.gdassist.com

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email: gdal@green-delta.com

Renowned Global Healthcare Tourism Destinations

The global healthcare tourism market is steadily maturing, reflected in the growing number of patients travelling overseas for medical treatment. Credible industry reports estimate that the global medical tourism market was worth about US$20 billion in 2016 and is projected to record a sharp compounded annual growth rate of 18.8 per cent to reach a size of over US$ 47 billion by 2021. Some of the principal reasons that have boosted the growth of the global healthcare tourism industry include lower costs than what is available in the travellers’ country of origin and better treatment quality with quicker recuperation.

So if you are a patient who is looking for high-standard treatment abroad or have somebody at home who requires quick medical attention, we present below a list of the top medical tourism destinations of the world with an explanation of why they are considered to be the best in the field.

India: At the cutting-edge of healthcare technology

Why India? India is one of the key players in the global medical tourism industry, providing patients with healthcare services that are driven by modern technology and efficient care. Besides, many hospitals in India are accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) and Joint Commission International (JCI). Additionally, in India, there is close to zero waiting time as scheduling surgery or other interventions can be achieved quickly upon diagnosis confirmation. Among the various healthcare solutions, India is known for cardiovascular and orthopaedic interventions that can be provided at high-quality and affordable rates.

Key patient benefits? It is estimated that availing healthcare facilities in India saves patients between 65 per cent to 90 per cent of costs compared to the cost of similar services in the US. This fact has evolved India into one the most visited nations for healthcare.

Surplus patient offerings? Patients visit India not only for the quality and affordability of healthcare services but also for its tourism. The country offers several sightseeing and vacationing options that can vastly aid patient recuperation.

Malaysia: An award-winning medical tourism model

Why Malaysia? Malaysia has scooped up the number one spot in the International Medical Travel Journal’s award for ‘Health and Medical Tourism Destination of the year’ consecutively in 2015 and 2016. The nation ranks among the best providers of healthcare in all of Southeast Asia.

Key patient benefits? Health travellers who visit Malaysia have the potential to save 65 per cent to 80 per cent on medical costs compared to the cost in the US or the EU. Moreover, Malaysia offers excellent patient comfort with five-star hospital rooms that look more like hotel suites. Additionally, at both Penang and Kuala Lumpur international airports, the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC), the apex industry body for the sector, provides lounge and concierge services to medical tourists to ensure comfort the moment they arrive in Malaysia. This also goes a long way in building patient trust.

Surplus patient offerings? Malaysia’s emphasis on holistic patient care and wellbeing is reflected in the fact that some of the renowned healthcare destinations in the country offer, for example, indoor pools for hydrotherapy.

Thailand: Internationally-accredited healthcare infrastructure

Why Thailand? Thailand is globally renowned for its unique hospitality and also the fact that the country has been able to create a brand that is firmly rooted on tourism. Hence, Thailand is most suitable for patients preferring cutting-edge healthcare access plus an option to holiday in a country that is renowned for its exotic beaches and other locales. Having said that, the magnet that has the strongest pull for international patients is that Thailand has the largest number of internationally-accredited hospitals in Southeast Asia.

Key patient benefits? Medical services in Thailand saves a patient 50 per cent to 75 per cent on medical expenses they would have incurred for similar services in the developed world. Moreover, Thailand also offers patients time-tested treatment solutions like Thai massage and other forms of deep relaxation therapies that aid in their healing and recuperation.

Surplus patient offerings? Thailand is the most reputed for dispensing advanced dentistry services as well as cosmetic and dermatological procedures. Moreover, large and prominent hospitals in Thailand are well-versed with outstation patient requirements, reflected in the fact that one of them provides advanced healthcare services to over 4 lac medical tourists annually.

Singapore: Sophisticated solutions in healthcare

Why Singapore? Singapore is one of the most developed countries in the world, maintaining the top-spot in the World Health Organisation’s ranking of healthcare in Asian countries. Excellent medical services, state-of-the-art facilities, well-trained specialists and an emphasis on comprehensive patient care has turned Singapore into a much sought-after worldwide healthcare location

Key patient benefits? Seeking healthcare in Singapore saves a patient 25 per cent to 40 per cent of what they would have spent on the same services in the US. As the medical tourism market becomes more competitive and with countries like Singapore continually investing in its healthcare infrastructure and resources, it is likely to remain at the top as a key player in the industry of medical travel.

Surplus patient offerings? Singapore also boasts of a sophisticated tourism industry with a number of must-visit places like the Sentosa Islands and the Universal Studios. Besides, the country is also a shopping magnet with a variety of innovative lifestyle, home décor, cosmetics and tech products available at reasonable prices.

Taiwan: Emerging medical destination

Why Taiwan? Interestingly, Taiwan has experienced gradual expansion in medical tourism in the recent years. With advances in the treatment of cardiac diseases and orthopaedic and neurological conditions, Taiwan is widely expected to emerge as a preferred destination in these medical fields.

Key patient benefits? Taiwan initiated the first kidney transplant and the first-ever paediatric liver transplant in Asia. As such, it has an established medical practice. Moreover, patients can expect savings of 40 per cent to 55 per cent in healthcare costs as compared to the cost of similar services in the more advanced countries.

Surplus patient offerings? Taiwan offers patients comfortable accommodation options with spacious rooms and also well-trained and empathetic English-speaking staff.

In 2017, more than 12 million travellers packed their bags, booked flights and headed-off to destinations around the globe to undergo medical procedures and recovering by the poolside or on the beach as well as to discover other cultures and cuisines. Additionally, many of the global medical tourism destinations offer more than simply healthcare; they bundle the experience with other succours like tourism opportunities and spa-like amenities.

So if you’re someone who’s thinking of overseas travel for healthcare, do get in touch with GD Assist. As one of the most renowned medical tourism facilitators in Bangladesh, GD Assist will help you identify the ideal country matching your medical needs and budget, in addition to short-listing the right hospital, booking accommodation as well as doctor appointments. GD Assist can also take care of all your visa and logistical requirements.

So get in touch with GD Assist today and get going…

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email: gdal@green-delta.com

Website: gdassist.com

 

Affordable Euro Trip

Many of us have a Euro trip on our bucket list. However, because of the prohibitive expenses involved, we put the trip off for the next year. Sadly however, the next year seldom comes. Worry not!

We have illustrated here 20 tips on how you can make your dream Euro trip affordable while realising all your expectations out of the tour. What’s more, we are also giving 18 directives on ensuring that your trip is smooth while avoiding some common mistakes. What’s with the numbers 20 and 18, you might ask? Well, these are strategic because we really want the year 2018 to be the one when you finally embark on your Euro trip!

20 tips to save money

  1. Low-cost accommodation

The biggest secret in travel today is luxury hostels. These are hostels where the focus is on creating guest experiences and they are definitely cheaper than star hotels.

  1. Co-shared living spaces

You must check Airbnb when visiting Europe. It has a fantastic range of places to stay and offers great value. What’s more, if you’re new to Airbnb, on first-time sign up, you may get discounts too.

  1. Rail travel

If you’re travelling from London to Paris, Eurolines offers rates as little as £15 one-way. You can hop over to Eurostar to checkout their brand new SNAP fares where you can get cheap fares for advance bookings.

4. Hop-on hop-off bus services

Flixbus’ Interflix Euro bus pass  is probably the best deal in bus travel. Besides having good frequency on all key routes, the buses also offer free Wi-Fi and generous luggage allowances.

  1. Book in advance

Save queuing time for major European attractions by booking your activities in advance. Doing so also opens up the chance for you to get an instant online discount, which can be substantial savings if you are travelling in a group.

  1. Free walking tours

Several European destinations offer free walking tours. These are comprehensive, entertaining and relaxing and a good way to explore offbeat places.

  1. Time your trip

Don’t travel to Europe in the summers if you can avoid it. It is best to look at off-season instead. For instance, during winters, hotels can be discounted by upto 40 per cent so you can get a great deal.

  1. First things first

When first arriving in a new city in Europe, ensure that you stop by the tourism bureau for discounts, free maps and cost-free events. Plus, their information/advice will be trustworthy.

  1. All-exclusive pass

Quite a few European destinations offer an all-inclusive pass that gets you access to museums and also public transportation. If you are planning to pack in a number of visitor attractions, this pass can save you a lot of money.

  1. Feet on street

Walk as much as you can. This way, you’ll be able to remain fit, stand a chance to be greeted by something most unexpected and also spend quality time with your loved ones. Walking is free too!

11. Do as the locals do 

Join locals in restaurants and eateries during happy hours. You can also check out local sports matches which are often free or cheap.

  1. Save on roaming bills

Roaming charges and accessing the internet abroad is still prohibitively expensive and hence it is best to get yourself a local internet data-only SIM. Or you can buy a mobile Wi-Fi device that is relatively cheap too.

  1. Chug along

For pocket-friendly travel, you can try trains, especially the regional and local ones, that can be very cheap, especially in countries like Poland and Hungary. You can especially consider making longer connections by overnight train that can save you accommodation costs too.

  1. Pedal power

If you can, you must travel by a cycle. Travelling thus not only saves you money, it’s great for your health too. Plus, cyclists can match with gracious locals who are willing to accommodate them. The emphasis is on the exchange of experiences and cultures rather than of money.

  1. Fly with a low-cost airline

Thanks to the low-cost airline revolution, travelling across Europe is a lot cheaper. Even with hidden extras like paying for checking-in your luggage, prices are reasonable, especially over longer distances.

  1. Be money-wise

It is expensive to withdraw money abroad from an ATM. Not only will you get a poor exchange rate, you will also be charged a withdrawal fee. Hence, travellers’ cheque/card is the most optimum and secure way of carrying money.

  1. Avoid buying currency at the airport

If you can, you should avoid buying currency at the airport. It will be needlessly expensive. Hence, it is best to not put off your forex till the last minute.

  1. Stay off-centre

In almost every major European city you can get significantly cheaper prices if you are willing to stay off the city’s centre. In addition to the peace and quiet, you can also get a chance to explore offbeat areas.

  1. Restrict restaurant meals 

Limit eating-out to once a day even as you should visit a gourmet restaurant for lunch when many restaurants offer great value in set menus and business lunches. In addition, food stalls around European cities are common and they are a great way to save money too.

  1. Shop locally

If you are shopping for articles/souvenirs to take back home, you should try the local supermarket or visit farmer’s markets and watch what the locals are buying to get the best deals.

18 ways to avoid common pitfalls

  1. Ensure passport validity

A valid passport is a prerequisite for travel to Europe. Moreover, travellers who have a valid passport should check the expiry date before they purchase any flight tickets as some countries can deny entry if your passport expires within 6-months of when you arrive.

  1. Organise your travel documents

Assemble all your travel documents properly, including bank statements that will need to be authenticated by your bank. You might be denied visas if you do not submit all the documents as required or if your documentation is incomplete.

  1. Apply for visas well in advance

It is important that you apply for your Schengen visa (for travel through Europe) well in time. While the application procedure takes 4-6 weeks, there is an element of unpredictability and hence proper planning is vital.

  1. Be certain of your trip dates

It is important to decide what time of the year you want to travel to Europe. You can start by planning your itinerary around dates and events. Weather is a major aspect that you should consider while planning.

  1. Start refining your list

Once you’ve done your research, it is crucial that you narrow down your ideal Europe trip list. Countries like Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic feature some of the best experiences while being considerably cheaper than most countries in Western Europe.

  1. Carry valid licences

This would be especially relevant for those planning on renting a car while in Europe as a valid driver’s license is mandatory.

  1. Pack right

Temperatures in Europe can vary drastically and hence it is important to pack accordingly. It is also a good idea to carry an umbrella in your backpack at all times.

  1. Slow down

Remember that by trying to see everything, a lot of travellers fail to enjoy anything. Hence, ensure that you give yourself enough time to relax and avoid burnout.

  1. Be aware of travel time

Remember to account for travel time between European cities. Think about how much you’re actually going to want to see or do in a new city after travelling all day/night between destinations on your trip itinerary.

  1. Research flights to Europe

Plan for your flight and decide whether you want standard round-trip flights or one-way flights, which are usually more expensive.

  1. Map your route

Once you’ve decided on the destinations, you can determine the best route for your itinerary. Look at a map of Europe to avoid backtracking – it wastes both time and money.

  1. Always keep time in hand

If you plan everything down to the minute, even a slight delay could wreak havoc on your schedule. So it’s best to keep some time in hand.

  1. Use translation services

Rely on technology for translation services as you really do not want to face the challenge of getting lost in a region where they don’t speak your language.

  1. Pack light

If you pack heavy, you could end up paying the airline for oversized carriage. You also run the risk of having to lug your bag/s during the journey, which can be tiresome.

  1. Stay pocket-light

Never carry too much cash that runs the risk of getting lost/stolen. A preloaded multi-cash currency cardis by far one of the cheapest and easiest ways to handle money when travelling in Europe.

  1. Travel with some cash

Though staying pocket-light is good, do carry a reasonable amount of cash. A lot of cafes, restaurants, local markets, etc. do not accept plastic cards.

  1. Check the calendar

If you travel around certain dates to certain cities, you might find everything closed, which could be quite a damper to your plans. Hence, reconfirm the dates, especially if you have limited time per destination.

  1. Carry solid footwear

Though most European cities are pedestrian-friendly, it is always a great idea to wrap your feet around good footwear, especially if you are planning to walk a lot.

Europe is full of amazing places and experiences that you could travel for years and still feel like you’ve missed something essential. GD Assist, an experienced travel and tourism player, can meet all your Euro tour needs to provide you with curated experiences that you’re sure to cherish for a lifetime!

Let 2018 be the year when you ticked Euro off your visit list and at GD Assist, we’ll help you to do just that!

So, call GD Assist today.

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email: gdal@green-delta.com

Website:  gdassist.com

Avoid these common slip-ups in visa application

Habib-ul Bashar was excited as his visa for visiting India was successfully granted. After all, he diligently completed the paperwork and provided all the supporting documents to the visa officer. He felt happy that he could now proceed for seeking treatment for persistent pain in his lower back. Alas! The immigration officer at the airport disallowed embarkation as Habib’s passport had less than six months of validity. Likewise, Nikhat Parveen had underestimated the time by which she thought she would get her visas. Her visas came exactly two days after the date of her flight booking. Not only she missed going on her chosen date but also lost a lot of money in ticket forfeiture/cancellation. Besides, she had to spend extra in purchasing eleventh-hour flight fares because the journey was important for her.

There are many people like Habib-ul Bashar and Nikhat Parveen whose visa applications are either outright rejected or they are disallowed to board their flights at the last-minute or they are unaware of the visa process, as a result of which their visa application is not considered. Indeed, a large number of Bangladeshis have to suffer because of some common and entirely avoidable mistakes in their visa applications. Though such submissions can be a daunting and overwhelming task for many applicants, we present below some common mistakes that many people make in their visa applications and the accompanying remedy.

  1. Not checking passport validity

A valid passport and visa are prerequisites for travelling abroad, including to India. The passport must be valid for 6 months beyond stay in India and have at least two-three blank pages available for visa stamps. Besides, there are many types of visas and each visa type has its own eligibility criteria. Many applicants fail to check and confirm their eligibility for the specific visa they are applying for. As such, the processing of their application is delayed or their application is rejected. Specifically, for a medical visit, a medical visa is given to those seeking medical treatment in reputed/recognised specialised hospitals/treatment centres in the country of their choice.

Thuscheck your passport thoroughly before applying for visa. If your passport is due to expire soon, please apply for a new one. The important thing to remember here is to plan in advance and work accordingly. 

  1. Not sending the required supporting documents

Many applicants think submission of visa application form alone is enough to get the visa. The fact is that this is just a single part of the full visa application process. You must submit all the required supporting documents asked for. For instance, it is a common mistake that applicants make when they forget that their bank statements require bank seals for authentication. Hence, not doing so can delay your visa or lead to rejection of your application.

So, read the visa application procedure carefully and make a list of all the supporting documents that are asked for. Moreover, it is always a good idea to carry an extra photocopy of important supporting documents to avoid any last-minute hassles.

  1. Not being truthful or not providing complete application information

Many applicants are not fully truthful or provide incomplete information in their visa petitions. This often leads to denial of visa or delay in processing the application. Being untruthful may also lead to legal action.

Hence, you must be sure to provide true, factually correct and complete information in your visa entreaty. It is also best to be fully transparent with adequate disclosures, if any, and not withhold any information.

  1. Not starting the application process early

This is a common pitfall and is characterised by many applicants who submit their visa petitions at the last moment. In the hurry to submit their applications quickly, many end up making mistakes in their paperwork and also forget to send the supporting documents, which lead to rejection.

Therefore, it is essential that you be proactive and start the process as early as possible. As a thumb rule, you should commence your visa application process anywhere between 4-6 months ahead of your planned dates.

  1. Not checking your photographs

Photographs for visa applications need to adhere to the defined specifications. If you do not check the photo specifications closely, the officer may find that as a relevant ground to reject your visa application. Today, many consulates require that one uses photographs that have been taken in the past 3 months and have never been used for a visa application before.

Consequently, check the photo specifications and communicate the same to the studio where you’re getting your shots done. In a number of cases, the studio is also aware of the specific photo requirements for visa applications. Do remember the exact photo frame size asked for, the background specifications (ideally a plain white or light-coloured background), the full front view of the head, face directly facing the camera with a neutral expression, etc.

  1. Not carrying the appropriate fee

Consulates for different countries have their own methods of payments. Hence, it is essential to ensure that one knows the method and the exact amount of the applicable fee. One does not want to run short on the applicable fee and create an awkward situation where the visa is not granted.

Accordingly, you must refer to an appropriate source for detailed information on the exact visa issuance fee and the accepted method of payment.

Besides the above, some countries might also require applications to appear for their visa interview. It is important to note that a successful interview can have a greater positive impact in the visa-granting decision. So, one must be prepared well for such interviews through doing prior research and also preparing for commonly asked questions and their appropriate answers.

Also, here are some more tips on ensuring a smooth and conflict-free interaction with the immigration officer at the airport.

  • Firstly, never make any arguments with the officer. Always be polite and courteous.
  • Secondly, be ready with the information asked for and be truthful. Some of the common questions include, “What is the purpose of your visit?” or “What is your profession?” or “For how many days will you be staying in the country?” Always be prepared with the answers.
  • Thirdly, don’t talk too much. Only speak/respond when asked for an answer.
  • Fourthly, always be confident with positive body language. Do not be nervous.
  • Fifthly, a number of countries require immigration forms to be filled at the destination country’s airport and submitted to the immigration officer. Always write clearly and truthfully. As an essential tip, do keep in handy your destination address and local phone number/local contact’s phone number that is required to be filled in the immigration form.

It is always important to trust an expert for your visa requirements. They are often the ones who are the bridge that help you in your application process, which could make a difference in being granted the visa smoothly and seamlessly. With years of rich experience in the travel and tourism industry, GD Assist’s dedicated travel desk can be your friend and guide in helping you with your visa and ticketing solutions.

So, call GD Assist today.

Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888. Email: gdal@green-delta.com

Website:  gdassist.com