When in need of medical care, you would not be very selective in picking a hospital, but knowing your options before disaster strikes is one of the most important decisions a savvy woman can make. The reality is that not all hospitals—or doctors and nurses, for that matter—deliver high-quality care (or women friendly services). Furthermore, not all Kenyan hospitals are the same. There are some hospitals where patients get better medical care, experience fewer medical mistakes, and receive more attention for their medical needs.

However, every hospital has a responsibility to provide a variety of patient services and to allocate to you the right doctor with the right skill and experience level because that can make a big difference in how well you recover.

According to Dr. Wangui Muthigani, Program Manager- Maternal and New born Health at Ministry of Health there are key things every woman should consider before ultimately deciding whether or not a hospital or health facility works for them: Overall, health services should be accessible, acceptable, safe, affordable, feasible and sustainable

1. Accessible

Geographically- most ‘good’ hospitals are in towns. The former provincial hospitals, most private hospitals and the referral hospitals are all in major towns. Therefore to get a full range of woman friendly services many women have to travel long distances to get these services.

Preventive care services, contraception services, wellness services, family planning, and sub-specialty care are all critical to women’s health. The reality is that the scope of care varies across socio- economic boundaries. Therefore it is not uncommon for most women with lower incomes or the uninsured to be denied certain critical services due to cost.

2. Acceptable

This refers to experience of care. Although it can be said that what is considered acceptable is subjective to every woman.  In broad strokes, the health care provider should understand a woman’s right to information, informed consent, confidentiality and privacy. It must assure freedom from harm, dignity and respect, and provide equal and equitable care.

3. Safe

First do no harm! Is your health provider over prescribing? Are they ordering tests you don’t need? Are they really listening to you? Are you getting procedures you don’t need? First thing your health provider (Health facility + Health practitioner) should do is ensure you are safe. Unnecessary tests, medicines and procedures put clients in harm’s way.

5. Affordable

Most Kenyans with insurance don’t bother to check the bill because it’s not a direct payment system. Healthcare in Kenya is out of reach for most citizens. One is usually an illness away from bankruptcy and poverty.

6. Feasible

So your health provider is affordable and is close to you.  You like the services they offer but are only open for specific services you need on Tuesday from 9am-12pm. Your work hours are crazy; your boss won’t let you go for an appointment…What then?

7. Sustainable

Your health is vital part of your life. You should always make sure that everything is healthy with your body and mind. You can easily access valuable information that concerns any prospective hospital’s safety or its quality of service and patient care through smart research. Health care services should be within reach, good quality and with the above traits regardless of your changing fortunes.