Remarks by Heather Schildge, Deputy Mission Director during Afya Elimu Fund Transition Breakfast Meeting

Speeches Shim

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
USAID Deputy Mission Director Heather Schildge participates in the event marking the official handover of the Afya Elimu Fund to the Higher Education Loans Board.
USAID Deputy Mission Director Heather Schildge participates in the event marking the official handover of the Afya Elimu Fund to the Higher Education Loans Board.
Human Resources for Health Kenya

Good Morning and Hamjambo Mabibi na Mabwana. 

It is an honor to be here today with all of you who have contributed to making the Afya Elimu Fund a success.  When we look at the messages around us – “Empowering Dreams” and “Education for a healthy, wealthy nation” – the impact of this fund goes beyond helping individual students. Rather is it a transformational effort that positively impacts students, youth, the health sector, communities, and the economy. 

USAID has partnered with the Government of Kenya for over 50 years in support of its development agenda in various sectors, including health.  As part of its 60 billion Shillings in annual support for Kenya’s health sector, the United States has helped train thousands of health care workers to create the robust workforce that is needed to respond to Kenya’s critical health care needs.  In 2013, USAID helped launch the Afya Elimu Fund to cover tuition costs for students who otherwise would not have been able to afford medical college.  

The fund pooled resources from USAID, the Government of Kenya, and the private sector.  At the beginning, the government and USAID were contributing equally to the fund, with a target of training 12,500 students over five years.  Over the years, the Government of Kenya’s contribution to the fund through HELB grew tremendously, with the government in the end contributing four times more than USAID.  To date, the Afya Elimu Fund has raised nearly $26 million, allowing it to train three times more students than initially planned. 

The program has already assisted 11,878 new health care workers and currently supports 24,017 students pursuing degrees in the medical field.  This is a great success story, as the beneficiaries will contribute to national growth by saving lives, improving the quality of life for Kenyans, bettering their own lives and those of their families, and boosting the economic empowerment of youth and young women.  The benefits are multifold. 

USAID’s long-term goal is also to see the countries we support become successful enough to no longer need our assistance.  So, I am delighted to be here today to mark the official handover of the Afya Elimu Fund to HELB.  This event is the culmination of a two-year transition process during which we helped ensure that the right systems and structures are in place to ensure the continuity and longevity of the Afya Elimu Fund.

This is a true example of a sustainable and self-reliant initiative that we are proud to be associated with.  There remains, however, a much greater potential for the private sector to become involved in the Afya Elimu Fund.  We would encourage more players in the private sector to join the fund, so that we can reach even greater heights. 

I would also like to congratulate the students who have completed their medical training thanks to the Afya Elimu Fund and call on them to repay their loans so that more young Kenyans can benefit from the same support that you received. 

When you “pay back” your loans, you are in fact “paying it forward” and helping the next generation of Kenyans to succeed.  We as USAID look forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with Kenya to strengthen the country’s health sector and ensure the well-being of its people.

Thank you.

Issuing Country 

Last updated: August 16, 2021

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