Kakamega County has invested KES 6 million to the Afya Elimu Fund to support students from the county enrolled in medical training institutions countrywide. This contribution will enable needy students from the county access low interest loans through the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) administered fund. Themonies will cater for tuition fees for the 2017/18 academic year for first year and continuing students.
In an agreement signed on 29th September 2016, between HELB and USAID funded FUNZOKenya (2012–2017) subsequently HRH Kenya, Kakamega County committed to investing KES 7.5 million annually into the fund for the next five years. Through this contribution, the county will in the next five years support the training of 300 needy
students in cadres identified as critical towards responding to the county’s disease burden. 563 students residing in the county were previously supported by the fund through the FUNZOKenya project.
Established in 2013, and launched in 2016 the fund is a joint venture between USAID funded FUNZOKenya subsequently HRH
“As a county we developed Human Resources for Health (HRH) Strategic Plan and discovered we only had 2,400 health workers whereas we require about 12,000 to sufficiently meet the health care needs therefore it was urgent to identify strategies to bridge this shortfall” says Peninah Mukabane, County Executive Committee (CEC) Member – Health. “Our contribution was driven by the low rate of production of health workers. Despite recruiting 1,000 health workers, we still had a gap; county budget provisions cannot support recruitment of health workers in large numbers. This shortfall affects delivery of services, including treatment for HIV, TB and malaria”.
The entrance of Kakamega County into AEF is the result of over one year of engagement through USAID funded FUNZOKenya, Human Resources for Health Capacity Bridge (2014 -2016) and now HRH Kenya. Through support
from HRH Kenya in June this year, the County through its Department of Education and Health, revised its Education Regulations anchoring the fund within its legislation.
This investment is one of the long-term strategies to increase the health worker patient ratio as recommended by World Health Organization (WHO), and is also reflective of Kenya’s Vision 2030 social pillar.
The demand for health training is high and ensuring the sustainability of AEF is critical. From its inception, the fund sought to grow its funding to USD 15,000,000 (KES. 1.5 Billion) and operate as a revolving fund. As such, partnership with devolved units is crucial.
As one of the scale up counties served by HRH Kenya, the mechanism has enhanced leadership and management skills for the County Health Management Team (CHMT) as well as supported in-service training on HIV and MNCH. The county will also benefit from support towards strengthening the management of the health workforce as well as enhancing the use of data in decision making. Training institutions within the county have are also targeted for institutional and faculty strengthening services to sustain the production of market ready graduates. Ms. Mukabane agrees that increasing students’ access to tuition fees needs to be accompanied with teaching that responds to the disease burden. “This will ensure that health worker’s come into the work place with the right skill mix” she said. Kakamega County’s contribution sets the pace for other counties wishing to adopt this financing model towards accelerating the production of health workers within their counties.