34 The Medical System
Not all communities have all levels of medical services. However, whatever
the combination of services available, women (and any other sick people)
will receive better care if there are good links between them.
Important health services
The medical system offers many different kinds of services.
Some services, like surgery, x-rays or ultrasounds (see page 37)
are usually only available in hospitals. But the following services
that women need should be offered at low cost at the
• health information so that everyone can make better
decisions about their health, treat health problems correctly,
and prevent illness.
• immunizations or vaccinations that can prevent many
diseases, including tetanus, measles, diphtheria, whooping
cough, polio, tuberculosis, rubella, and hepatitis.
• care during pregnancy (prenatal care) that can help a
woman find and treat problems affecting her or her unborn
baby before they become serious.
• family planning services and supplies. Family planning can
save lives by helping women control how many children they
have, and the amount of time between births.
• health exams to help find and treat problems such as weak
blood (anemia), high blood pressure, and sexually transmitted
infections (STIs), including HIV.
Tests can give more information about possible causes of
health problems. Some tests, like Pap tests for example, require
some training but no expensive equipment. These tests should
be offered at the community level. Some health centers have
laboratories with the equipment needed to get the results of
different tests. However, often a woman will need to go to a
hospital to be tested.
Other services are only available in hospitals. If a woman has
a serious illness, complications from childbirth or abortion, or if
she needs an operation, she will probably have to go to a hospital.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012