Energy equity is the right to healthcare.png
Photo: Amit Ranjan

Energy equity is the right to healthcare

What does it mean to have energy equity?

It means that the woman living in rural Jharkhand in India does not have to endure another childbirth without properly sterilized equipment, baby warmers, or a sufficient source of light. It means that nurses do not have to rely on the use of kerosene lamps, candles, and cellphone lights to deliver a baby at night, fearful that the health center’s power supply will shut off at dusk. Energy equity means that every human has the right to health care.

The current COVID-19 crisis has brought into sharp relief the inadequacy of Africa and India’s healthcare infrastructure—including access to energy—especially in the case of the rural poor. WHO notes that 70 percent of medical devices cannot be used in developing countries due to unreliable power supply. Even more, unelectrified health facilities account for the deaths of at least 290,000 women and 1.7 million children each year. While there are thousands of rural healthcare centers that could potentially provide treatment and general care for patients in even the most remote areas suffering from COVID-19 or other illnesses, proper care requires access to reliable electricity.

In the state of Jharkhand, 45% of health centers do not have a continuous supply of energy. This means a lack of light, refrigeration, and limited hours of operation compromise the provision of basic rural health services. Power for All is mobilizing key decision-makers across the health and energy sectors to fight for energy access in rural health centers throughout Jharkhand. Working together with a diverse set of 20 organizations, Power for All put forward an action plan, calling on the government to solarize all public health centers in rural India. Following the action plan, the Jharkhand Health Department announced its plan to assess the benefit of solarizing 4,000 health centers in the state. Power for All is working with partners to conduct the survey, to assess the potential gaps and financing means. Power for All is also carrying out a communications campaign to raise awareness of the issue in the state more broadly.

In Zambia, Power for All has mobilized a coalition of over 35 stakeholders for the Power for Health campaign, representing institutions such as the Ministry of Health, World Resources Institute, and Africa Clean Energy (ACE). The Minsty of Health in particular has taken a leadership role in the coalition, recognizing the urgency to bridge the gap between the health and energy sectors in order to make healthcare accessible to all Zambians. Power for All also encouraged the Government to submit an energy compact to the UN High-Level Dialogue on Energy (HLDE),  a voluntary commitment from member states and stakeholders to take specific actions to advance universal, clean, and affordable energy for all by 2030. The Government of Zambia committed in its energy compact to install over 100,000 solar home systems, 300,000 off-grid electricity connections to bring clean energy access to 1.6 million Zambians through the Beyond the Grid Fund and the electrification of 941 health clinics by 2030 using off-grid solar. The compact was chosen to be highlighted at the HLDE, during which the president of Zambia delivered a speech

Our Power for Health campaign promotes energy equity by uniting stakeholders to advocate for universal electrification of rural healthcare facilities, and ensuring that everyone has access to safe healthcare, regardless of circumstance. The campaign currently has almost 100 coalition members across India, Zambia and Burkina Faso. Due to Power for All’s leadership, organizations across sectors are now more informed, aligned, and committed to the issue of electrification of health clinics than ever before.

Learn more about our Power for Health campaign here. To support Power for All’s efforts to advocate for energy equity, and access to basic healthcare for all, please consider donating.

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