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i-PUSH: Changing the lives of 35,000 Kenyan women through health coverage

In 2016, PharmAccess and Amref Health Africa won the Dutch Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund for a new program to connect low-income women of reproductive age and their families to healthcare financing, quality care and lifestyle support – directly through their mobile phone.

  • Jul 11, 2019

The innovative Partnership for Sustainable Universal Health (i-PUSH) program targets low income women living in informal settlements in urban areas and subsistence farmers in rural areas. I-PUSH leans on a simple scalable mobile innovation that enables easy enrollment into Kenya’s national hospital health insurance fund (NHIF), so that they can access quality care at health clinics close by, without having to pay out-of-pocket.

Once enrolled into the program, the women have access to a subsidized health cover for a year, during which they are expected to save 50% of the value of a NHIF cover (Ksh 6,000) for the policy to continue for a second year. A digital savings wallet enables them to save little amount towards their NHIF premium.

Through SMS messaging and behavioral nudges, the women receive savings support to reach the required savings threshold. But oftentimes, the women have competing financial priorities for their low incomes (FinAccess 2019). Using insights developed jointly with Duke University’s Centre for Advanced HindSight, the women receive capacity  building on goal setting as well as tools to help them plan, achieve and track their achievements.

The 75 healthcare providers (a mix of public and private) in the program are supported to improve the quality of services they offer through benchmarking and capacity building as well as enabling digitalized collection of utilization data to support decision making.

I-PUSH has engaged over 2,000 Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Nairobi and Kakamega counties, to use digital tools for mobile learning, household mapping and continuous health education of women. These CHVs have been trained on the benefits of insurance (NHIF) and have been subsequently empowered to train the community on the same. To date CHWs have enrolled 35,000 households (75,292 beneficiaries) onto NHIF through their mobile phone at the comfort of their homes.


In Kakamega County, a new mother appreciated the experience of delivering in a health facility for the first time. “I didn’t believe it until I went to Eshisiru to deliver my second child and I was not asked to pay anything because I had NHIF. I appreciate you for supporting this because I did not get any complication like what I got while delivering my first child at home’’