July 17, 2020
Power for All
Powering Health Facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa
Africa has the lowest energy access rates in the world, roughly 600 million people still lack electricity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four health facilities has no access to electricity, and only a third of hospitals have reliable electricity access. Access to reliable electricity in health centers is essential for ensuring the cold chain to safely preserve and store vaccines, blood, and other critical medicines requiring refrigeration. Stable electricity also improves basic amenities in health facilities such as access to clean water, sanitation, cooling and lighting.
Findings from the Community Based Green Energy Project in Kenya reflect that 70% of the 48 health institutions covered by the project have improved their vaccine storage, and 92% of the facilities visited were using solar refrigeration systems for drug storage. In Maputo, on average, there was a 30% increase in vaccinated children as a result of electrification.
During pregnancy and childbirth, adequate and continuous lighting along with medical equipment such as a fetal heart rate monitor or an ultrasound can be a life-saving measure for many women and children. In Mozambique electrification has led to an increase in the rate of institutional deliveries, as well as a reduction of mortality rates. For example, in Nampula, a reduction of maternal mortality rates of 103%.
The use of decentralized renewables in health facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa is advantageous for a number of reasons and health facilities can become “anchors” for distributed energy generation in their communities, stimulating even wider development co-benefits. “A survey of over 4000 public and private health facilities found that hundreds of clinics and hospitals are using on-site solar photovoltaic (PV) power sources either as a primary or backup source. The PV systems offered somewhat greater reliability: 81% of solar-equipped clinics reported that they had electricity available on the survey day, compared with only 52% of clinics using fossil fuel generators as their primary source. In sub-Saharan African settings such as Nigeria, efficiently managed hybrid solar-generator or solar/generator/wind power systems could reduce diesel fuel consumption, costs and associated emissions by up to 75–90%, depending on climate zone and energy requirements”
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