Health
 Kenya
Project #15846

Training Health Workers in Kenya Saves Lives

by IntraHealth International
Vetted

The Afya Elimu Fund, Swahili for Health Education, provided loans to students in Kenya who were interested in pursuing an education in health care. Like many countries around the world, Kenya has a serious shortage of health workers. There is only 1 doctor, nurse, or midwife for every 1,000 people, less than half the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization. The deficit is even worse in hard-to-reach areas since most health workers prefer to live and work in urban areas.

IntraHealth International has been helping Kenya strengthening the country’s systems to train, manage, recruit, post, and retain a high-quality and equitably distributed health workforce. While there are still not enough qualified workers to make high-quality services available to everyone, this project has had a positive impact and increased the number of health workers in Kenya. This project has come to a close but it is our hope that the students who received training will inspire others to seek similar opportunities.

IntraHealth is extremely appreciative of the support this project received. We encourage our donors and supports to check out our other project on Global Giving, “Restore Dignity to Women in Mali.” Please also follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/IntraHealth/?fref=ts) and Twitter (@IntraHealth). You can also stay in touch by signing up for our newsletter: http://intrahealth.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=24ebd0d55aceda622cfea925c&id=c460ab6686.

Off the smooth Nairobi-Meru highway, at the busy Karaba Trading Centre and Market, begins the rough and dusty road to Mbonzuki Dispensary. The temperatures are high and the wind is gusty. Come the rainy season, the road becomes impassable except by foot or heavily levied motorbike.

Pauline is one of the two health workers who run the facility and provide health care for Mbonzuki Village, a very remote part of Kenya’s Embu County. Pauline is a registered community health nurse who provides family planning services, immunizations, prescribes and dispenses medications, delivers babies, and oversees the facility’s comprehensive care center helping HIV-positive clients and counseling them on the importance of taking their antiretroviral drugs. Before Pauline came to Mbonzuki the dispensary just had one employee—Paul—who cared for a population of about 10,000 by himself.

Kenya has a serious shortage of health workers. There is only 1 doctor, nurse, or midwife for every 1,000 people, less than half the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization. The deficit is even worse in hard-to-reach areas like Mbonzuki Village since most health workers prefer to live and work in urban areas.

“It’s tough here,” says Pauline. She puts in long hours, sometimes six days a week, and cares for up to 70 clients a day. The facility lacks electricity and piped water. There’s a shortage of essential medicines and equipment. Plus, Pauline’s four-year-old daughter is due to start school soon. “With no kindergarten school in the village, it’s a difficult situation. My passion for community health nursing and my responsibility as a parent is a dilemma I’m struggling with.” Nonetheless, Pauline remains upbeat about her work and strives to keep the villagers’ hope of better health care down the road alive.

IntraHealth International has been helping Kenya strengthening the country’s systems to train, manage, recruit, post, and retain a high-quality and equitably distributed health workforce, but there are still not enough workers like Pauline and Paul to make high-quality services available to everyone. Continued support for projects like the Afya Elimu fund will help close the gap between the number of health workers needed and the number actually on the ground.

Many of Kenya’s health professional students are unable to pay their annual tuition fees—approximately 70,000 Kenyan Shillings ($767) for most public middle-level colleges that offer certificate and diploma programs—leading to a high drop-out rate. As a result, Kenya has a serious shortage of health workers, with only 1 doctor, nurse, or midwife for every 1,000 people. This is significantly lower than the World Health Organization’s minimum recommendation of 2.3 doctors, nurses, and midwives for the same amount of people. Kenya’s growing population puts a further strain on the health workforce.

Afya Elimu Fund loans were created to combat this problem. These loans are offered to students enrolled in accredited nursing, clinical medicine, laboratory sciences, nutrition, and health records information programs. Students apply for the loan to cover their tuition fees, and can receive a maximum of 70,000 Kenya shillings ($767) a year. 

This fund will remain active and IntraHealth will continue to work with its partners including the FUNZOKenya project, the Higher Education Loans Board, and the Kenya Healthcare Federation, but will no longer offer giving opportunioties through Global Giving.

Please stay in touch with IntraHealth by signing up for our news letter at www.intrahealth.org.

Thank you for your support!

In Mombasa County, Kenya, cultural practices, religion, and other factors often stand in the way of women making choices about their reproductive lives. The dominant ethnic group, the Mijikenda, tend to marry girls at an early age and believe in large families. Cultural illiteracy and poverty are both common, particularly among women.

Linnet, a nurse at Mbuta Model Health Centre in Mombasa County, located ten kilometers from the nearest major hospital, did not have the proper training to consult and provide women with necessary contraceptive technology. Though she was able to administer contraceptive injections and pills, these forms of birth control are highly technical in practice, and many women who are illiterate cannot use them properly. Other birth control options were not available at Mbuta Model Health Centre.

 “In 2012 there was a woman who wanted an implant,” Linnet says. “But when I referred her to Mombasa, she did not make the trip because she lacked money for transport. After three months, she came back and wanted to have the injection. But when I ran a pregnancy test, she was already one month pregnant.”

 During a training course in contraceptive technology use, Linnet learned how to provide and use methods such as intrauterine devices, implants, and injectables. She was also equipped with counselling skills to help women make important decisions about reproduction. This training was funded by the Afya Elimu Fund, which allowed Linnet to expand her knowledge about women’s reproductive health and empower the women in her community to make informed choices.

Throughout Kenya, 17% of pregnancies are unwanted and 26% are mistimed. In 2013, 6,300 women died due to pregnancy-related causes. Women in rural and impoverished areas face particularly high risks, especially when—like the woman Linnet saw—they’re unable to access the care they need.

 Thanks to the training that Linnet and her peers received, health workers at Mbuta Model Health Centre now have the necessary background to support women and allow them to make informed reproductive decisions. This training would not be possible without the Afya Elimu Fund, which provided Linnet with the necessary financial support to attend.

Dominic at Tenwek Mision Hospital
Dominic at Tenwek Mision Hospital

In a small, three-bed ward at the Tenwek Mission hospital’s Maternity wing, Dominic moves about, assisting mothers and their newborn babies. He loves his work and has wanted to be a health worker since he was a child. But for this third year nursing student, the journey has not been smooth. He has had to miss classes on many occasions and pick up various jobs in order to pay tuition.

Kenya is in dire need of qualified health workers with only 15 health workers to every 10,000 people according to World Health Organization. And to make matters worse, many of Kenya’s health professional students are unable to pay their annual tuition fees—approximately 70,000 Kenyan Shillings ($767) for most public, middle-level colleges that offer certificate and diploma programs.  This leads to a high drop-out rate for students like Dominic, despite their motivation and passion for their careers.

Dominic is among 2050 students across Kenya whom Afya Elimu Fund (AEF) has provided hope and a stable source of funding for their training. To these students, donations from donors make the difference between saving lives and simply trying to make ends meet. For the 2000 students, AEF is a stress-free source of tuition as no interest is charged during their time in school.

What makes the AEF fund sustainable - and your donation go further - is that on completion of studies, students are given a one year grace period before commencement of repayment of loans at an interest rate of 4%. These repayments are reinvested back in to the fund as a resource for future students.  The fund seeks to ensure that all aspiring health workers, like Dominic, realize their dreams, improve the quality of health care and equitable distribution of health care workers across the country thus providing for the future health of all Kenya citizens.

We thank you for your continued support of the Afya Elimu Fund and students like Dominic!

 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

IntraHealth International

Location: Chapel Hill, NC - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.intrahealth.org/​
Project Leader:
Nola Paterni
Development Officer
Chapel Hill, NC United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

Still want to help?

Support another project run by IntraHealth International that needs your help, such as:

Find a Project

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.