The role of private sector training institutions in addressing nurse shortages in Kenya

March 2016
Nzomo Mwita, Christine Ngwawe, Samuel Okaro

Kenya faces severe health workforce shortages, especially at the primary health care level. Currently, the density of nurses per 100,000 of the population is 103.4, far below the World Health Organization minimum target threshold of 500 nurses per 100,000 required to provide sufficient coverage for essential interventions.

RESYST research has shown that:

  • Private and faith-based training institutions currently make up 30% of admissions for nursing courses in Kenya, and are increasingly being considered an important way of increasing nurse production.
  • Students from private nursing institutions are much more likely to graduate than public sector students; of which up to 40% do not successfully complete their training.
  • The curriculum of private institutions, however, is more limited with less focus on public health issues such as health equity and the social determinants of health.
  • Whilst Kenya has increased capacity to train nurses in recent years, severe blockages remain in the system, including in nurses’ employment prospects upon graduation.

Recommendations are made for public and private institutions as well as government regulation.

This brief is based on research carried out as part of the RESYST health workforce theme, which looks at the role of the private sector in addressing human resource constraints in Thailand, India and Kenya.

Health workforce Private sector Kenya