The United States Agency for International Development [USAID] has partnered with the Kenyan Government in building capacity of the health
sector for over 60 years. The USAID/HRH and HELB partnership through the Afya Elimu Fund [AEF] is a trailblazer that has empowered the dreams of the next generation of middle level healthcare workers.
I remember vividly when the Cabinet Secretary for Health announced the first case of Covid-19 in Kenya. Everyone in the office was concerned about the surge capacity of healthcare workers to rise to the challenge. Scenarios were done and the projections from a full capacity perspective were not that good. Thankfully, we had trained a sizeable pool of over 30,000 middle level health workers, some of whom had already graduated through our partnership with HELB in the now famous Afya Elimu Fund. This kind of funding to bright but very needy students ensures that health workers are available even in the most remote areas. Indeed, it is some of these frontline healthcare workers who ended up being sent to most remote areas as a first line of defense for the Covid-19 Pandemic.
I wish to challenge potential donors and private sector firms. When you look at Kenya’s regional position, it is clear that we are leading but how are we going to sustain our position? We need to go beyond the rhetoric of expecting Government to do everything and say, what can I also chip in to make a difference? I urge you to partner with HELB in the Afya Elimu Fund [AEF] to ensure that we have an adequate pool of health workers. We need more health workers acquiring higher education and become specialists who can handle various diseases across all parts of the country.
If more counties and constituencies set aside a small percentage towards the HELB AEF, in the next couple of years, each county and constituency will be able to handle its patients and reduce the strain on referral hospitals. This will allow national referral hospitals to handle the neediest cases and even support patients from other countries.