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Know your reproductive health rights

The Kenyan Constitution recognizes the right to health as a constitutional right for every Kenyan. And part of the mission statement of the Ministry of Health is to facilitate the provision of the highest standards of healthcare to all Kenyans.

What many may not realize is that patients enjoy many rights, which can be invoked whenever necessary in attempts to seek optimal healthcare.

The Ministry of Health has recently published a Kenya National Patients’ Rights Charter document detailing patients’ rights, responsibilities and dispute resolution with care providers. It is advisable that anybody seeking healthcare is well versed with the stipulated details. Equally healthcare workers, institutions, insurers and other stakeholders must be well versed with the Patients’ Rights Charter, and strive to uphold all its principles.

Women need to be especially aware of their reproductive health rights. This is the only way you can be empowered to demand quality services, and play an integral role in your own care. You have a right to access healthcare that spans from preventive to curative, and even rehabilitative care. This means adequate availability of healthcare infrastructure, staffing, equipment and other supplies. Healthcare must also be affordable. Anything short warrants redress via County governments.

Coupled with healthcare access is the choice of your healthcare provider. It is not uncommon for third parties to be restrictive of where women can seek healthcare. Women have the right to choose a specific health care facility, and a specific doctor(s). Unreasonable exclusions to well-reasoned choices of healthcare providers are not only unfair, but also deny your enshrined constitutional rights. Any medical cover exclusions must be unambiguous, and open to challenge and review in order to facilitate your health goals.

In emergency situations, women have the right to walk into the nearest healthcare facility and receive appropriate emergency life-saving treatment. This is irrespective of the woman’s ability to pay. Thereafter, transfer to an affordable facility can always be arranged. Coupled with this is the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Media reports of poor treatment of women in maternities are not uncommon, your right to dignity is not negotiable.Other rights include confidentiality, informed choices and even refusal to proposed treatments. And if things go wrong, you have the right to complain and seek redress.

But women must also shoulder some responsibilities for their own health. No use having so many rights but neglecting your own health. Be well aware of your prevailing health and take reasonable steps to remain healthy. Avoid smoking or drinking excessively, and practice safe sexual habits. Give accurate information to your healthcare providers, follow medical advice and be up to date with screening tests. Avoid delays in making decisions to seek medical attention, and be aware of where to seek appropriate help at all times.

Take a fertility test today

The Kenyan Constitution recognizes the right to health as a constitutional right for every Kenyan. And part of the mission statement of the Ministry of Health is to facilitate the provision of the highest standards of healthcare to all Kenyans.

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