Effectiveness of NHIF in addressing Students’ Healthcare in Public Secondary Schools in Meru County, Kenya
Muguna, Mbaabu Silas
Gichohi, Paul Maku
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Health insurance helps to cushion people from healthcare costs and facilitate equity in access to health facilities and services. The Government of Kenya has invested in a unique NHIF program, namely EduAfya, for public secondary schools. Although EduAfya is relatively new, it has been facing implementation challenges attributed to the weak structures and mechanism for supporting its operationalization. This study aimed to assess the NHIF as a health service provision model in public secondary schools in Meru County, Kenya. The specific objective was to examine the efficacy of NHIF as an approach for addressing healthcare in public secondary schools in Meru County. The study was guided by Andersen's model of health service utilization and adopted a descriptive survey design. Public secondary schools were stratified into four categories; hence, a proportionate systematic sampling technique was applied to sample 191 principals and the Students' Council's chairperson, while the County Director of Education was sampled purposively. Data was collected using a self-administered questionnaire and interview guide. Quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS, where factor analysis, means and standard deviations were computed, while linear regression analysis was used to test the hypothesis. Qualitative data were analyzed using the thematic technique. The study noted that students were underutilizing the NHIF program (EduAfya) despite its significance in addressing their healthcare. This was attributed to the low awareness, challenges in obtaining NEMIS number, and lack of awareness. Therefore, NHIF staff should conduct training and sensitization in public secondary schools targeting students, principals, and parents. In addition, the Ministry of Education and NHIF should collaboratively liaise with stakeholders in accrediting more local health facilities, including private health centres, to enhance the proximity of access to healthcare. The government should also develop a clear policy on handling emergencies and transportation costs; streamline the issuance of NEMIS number & biometric cards, and clarify the role of principals in enhancing the effectiveness of the EduAfya.