Promising Results from Study but More Work Needed for Healthcare Equity in Kenya

By Danélia Botes

August 31, 2023

The African Health Markets for Equity (AHME) program has shown encouraging results in improving access to and quality of private health clinics in Kenya, according to a recent study. The research, a cluster randomised controlled trial, aimed to determine if the combination of social health insurance and management training could enhance healthcare services in the country.

The study revealed that AHME significantly impacted clinics, with the treatment group reporting a 26.0% increase in total clients and a 51.3% increase in National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) clients. AHME also increased the likelihood of individuals having any form of health insurance, whether public or private.

However, the study did not find that AHME was successful in promoting pro-poor private healthcare. Poor households were significantly less likely to have health insurance, and there was no additional effect of AHME for this group. The study also found that AHME did not improve the quality of care for poor clients.

AHME focused on social health insurance as a mechanism for low-income households to receive high-quality healthcare at private or public clinics. The intervention encouraged and assisted private clinics to register under the NHIF scheme. This resulted in large effects on clinic registration and significant increases in the number of clients with public insurance served.

Despite these positive outcomes, more work is needed to improve insurance enrollment for poorer households. The study suggests that future research should focus on understanding the mechanisms through which increased clinic NHIF registration might increase demand-side insurance enrollment.

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