FUNZOKenya Helps Train 15,864 Health Workers, Improves Health Worker Education for the Long Haul

A student health worker who received a low-interest loan through the Afya Elimu Fund. Photo by Georgina Goodwin for IntraHealth International.

One of the over 9,330 students to receive low-interest loans through the Afya Elimu Fund. Photo by Georgina Goodwin for IntraHealth International.

Nearly 16,000 health workers in Kenya received updated training in HIV, maternal and child health, family planning, and other critical health areas, thanks to regional training hubs created by FUNZOKenya, a project funded by the US Agency for International Development and led by IntraHealth International.

The training hubs demonstrated a 38% increase in cost-efficiency over typical trainings by shifting the venues away from expensive hotels and hosting them instead at education institutions. The project established eight such hubs—networks of medical training institutions and hospitals that serve as clinical practice sites—in partnership with the Kenyan government to streamline in-service training for health workers during 2012–2016.

This is just one of the dramatic changes in health professional education and training systems that came about during FUNZOKenya’s five-year partnership with the government of Kenya. Together, they addressed the country’s chronic shortage of health workers and worked to ensure high-quality health care for the population. Funzo means training in Kiswahili, and the project, which ended in February, covered every aspect of the topic—from infrastructure and curricula improvements to quality assurance to helping needy students stay in school.

FUNZOKenya also:

  • Worked with health professional schools to budget and identify potential funding mechanisms for needed infrastructure improvements. As a result, 15 institutions raised over $2.66 billion Kenyan shillings (the equivalent of about $25.7 million USD) to cover projects ranging from improving classrooms and student housing to building new nursing schools. And fundraising is still ongoing.
  • Provided low-interest student loans to over 9,330 students from 99 institutions through the Afya Elimu Fund, a public-private partnership between IntraHealth, the Higher Education Loans Board, Kenya Healthcare Federation, and others. Many students drop out of medical training when they cannot afford to pay school fees; Afya Elimu offers them a way to finance their educations while also providing a sustainable fund from which future students can borrow. The fund plans to help train 20,000 health workers by 2018.
  • Worked with medical schools and training institutions to expand and graduate more health workers by pinpointing performance gaps in nine key areas. The project worked with schools to apply a tool based on IntraHealth’s Bottlenecks and Best Buys approach to assess and address those performance gaps.
  • Boosted quality and accountability within health education institutions. The project worked with schools to establish curriculum management committees, improve clinical practice governance, and strengthen accreditation requirements and enforcement. During 2015–2016, four of the country’s regulatory bodies conducted inspections of 183 institutions, fully accrediting 15% and partially accrediting 80%, which must now make improvements within a given time period to gain full accreditation.
  • Forged closer links between professional licensure by regulatory bodies and continuing professional development. The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board, for example, had 6,771 practitioners with renewed licenses as of June 2016—up from 3,137 in 2012. These linkages are critical to ensuring quality in health care.

Read more about FUNZOKenya’s results and recommendations.