NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 29 – A new loan programme targeting mid-level medical trainees like nurses, clinical officers, nutritionists and lab technologists in a bid to increase the country’s health workforce has officially been rolled out.
The programme dubbed ‘Afya Elimu Fund’ is one of the initiatives put in place by the Ministry together with the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) and USAID to address the shortage of health workers in the country, in line with Vision 2030.
Speaking during the official launch of the fund, the Health cabinet secretary Cleopa Mailu says the initiative will go a long way in addressing shortage of human resource in the health sector as well as improve on the services offered.
“These investments have to be matched by requisite well trained human resources for health, to supplement the health financing, medical supplies and equipment, service delivery, leadership and information system,” said Mailu.
However despite significant investments in the public health sector, several health systems challenges still remain.
This includes inadequate human resources to provide essential health services.
“The nurse and doctor ratio in Kenya to the population is still low considering the dynamic unidirectional nature of health workers migration,” noted Mailu.
“We will ensure that through this fund, students who have a passion to serve as health workers are supported to train and deployed to provide health care services to Kenyans,” noted Matiang’i.
The Health CS further stated that they have mandated the Afya Elimu Fund Oversight Committee to award loans to needy students in both private and faith based colleges.
The CS further observed that the inability to raise tuition fees was holding back qualified students who were interested in pursuing medical training.
“Cases of potential trainees failing to take up their positions or dropping out of training because they were unable to raise tuition fees are distressing. Some of them cannot afford the KSh120, 000 which is required each academic year. This Fund therefore hopes to address this vacuum,” he said.
Of the 9000 beneficiaries 85% will enroll in the Kenya-Medical-Training-College (KMTC) while the rest will be enrolled in private and faith based colleges
“Our focus is in arid and hard to reach areas where the poverty index is high and where health worker population is lower than the national average,” said Mailu.