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Looking for a healthcare facility in Nairobi?

The breadth and spread of Nairobi’s healthcare facilities can be daunting to locals, leave alone visitors coming from other counties or even foreigners. Facilities range from expensively equipped and well-resourced private hospitals, to somewhat wanting public facilities. Not to mention any number of two-roomed consultation premises, with variable quality of care.

So how can Nairobians make choices about where to seek medical help? The immediate deciding factor is the reason for seeking medical help. In emergency life and death situations, you should always seek medical help in the nearest health facility, any other approach increases the risk of death. All other non-emergency situations can wait, you can take time to select the most suitable health facility, taking many factors into consideration.

For starters, it helps to have an idea why you need a medical consultation. The next thing is to work out where to go for help. The government has a master list of all health care facilities in the country, and the kind of services they offer (www.ehealth.or.ke). So no problem working out facilities in Nairobi, but the listing tells you nothing about the cost, specialists available and most importantly the quality of care. Most facilities have their own websites, but majority have web pages that are difficult to negotiate to get meaningful information. Try making a phone call, you’ll most likely end up listening to a pre-recorded self-bloating rhetoric rather than speak to a helpful voice.

The decision to visit a certain facility will most likely be influenced by factors that include cost, insurance, accessibility and reputation. Every Nairobian deserves healthcare in the best of facilities, in other words, where the highest quality of care is the standard. But how can one judge where quality is good? Word of mouth, social media comments or self-rating by facilities? All that helps, but the only objective way is ranking by recognised authorities that measure quality outcomes. Look out for ISO or equivalent certifications.

Once you walk into your chosen facility, keep your wits about you. Ensure you are seen by the most qualified clinician available. Make sure you understand all the proposed interventions, ask questions to make clarifications. Any tests must be justifiable and add value to making or refuting a diagnosis. There is no single medical condition with one treatment option, and doing nothing is always an option. Be mindful of cost, the most expensive option is not necessarily the most effective. Your consent must be sought for any proposed interventions, and you can withdraw consent at any time. If unsure, seek a second opinion, non-emergencies conditions can always wait. And if aggrieved, the facility must have a clear complaints and compensation process.

Healthcare facilities for Nairobians should be of the highest quality, notwithstanding the variable socio-economic status of the Nairobi population. The County owes this to its populace.

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The breadth and spread of Nairobi’s healthcare facilities can be daunting to locals, leave alone visitors coming from other counties or even foreigners. Facilities range from expensively equipped and well-resourced private hospitals, to somewhat wanting public facilities.

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