1,400 medical students to benefit from Ksh. 70 million loan

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 10 – One thousand four hundred middle level medical students will in this academic year benefit from the Afya Elimu Fund, which has set aside loans worth KSh70 million for their tuition fees.

Health Principal Secretary Dr. Nicholas Muraguri made the announcement when he met Dr. Caroline Karutu, the Chief of Party of the USAID funded FUNZOKenya project in his office.

He explained that the Fund was one of the initiatives that the Ministry together with the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) and USAID had put in place to address the shortage of health workers in the country, in line with Vision 2030.

The PS 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 sometimes required each academic year. This Fund therefore hopes to address this vacuum,” he said.

HELB, which is the Fund’s administrator has contributed Ksh50 million.

Dr. Muraguri also announced that the Fund’s oversight committee will meet on April 1 to identify the 1,400 from a list of more than 6,000 students, who had applied for the loans.

So far, 5,100 students have benefitted from the Fund and more than KSh341 million has been disbursed.

“Medical training is one of the areas that we are focusing on as we work towards meeting the demand for healthcare givers especially in the marginalized areas and those that have high maternal and infant mortality rates,” he explained.

In order for Kenya to meet the globally recommended health worker to patient ratio, it is imperative that the production of new health workers is increased by at least 50 percent. This ratio is pegged at 23 skilled health professionals per 10,000 patients.

On her part, Dr. Karutu pointed out that during the application period in January this year, more than 18,000 applications were received but only 6,114 were approved for consideration.

Priority is given to needy students and those who come from marginalized areas, areas of high HIV prevalence such as Homa bay Bay and Kisumu as well as those that have high maternal and infant mortality rates.

“After their graduation, students are given a one year grace period and then they have to pay back the loan at an interest rate of 4 percent,” explained Dr. Karutu.

Beneficiaries receive between KSh40, 000 and KSh60, 000 per academic year depending on their financial status and availability of funds.

The Chief of Party also appealed to County governments and the private sector to join the initiative and supplement its efforts in order to support more students.