United Nations has called on
businesses, governments, and
civil society to achieve Sustainable
Energy for All by 2030
Richenda’s Message – November 2015
As many of our members know, our energy access team at UNF co-lead work on energy for health, focusing on health facility electrification with a strong gender and newborn lens within the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, together with WHO and UN Women. Thanks to support from IRENA and, together with them and WHO, we convened Powering Healthcare: Decentralized Renewable Energy Solutions for Health Facilities last month in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. While grid power is the standard for bringing electricity to hospitals, many health clinics and dispensaries remain far from national grids, and decentralized renewable energy solutions are a valued interim or permanent way to provide power to these frontline community health facilities.
The energetic workshop brought together many dynamic members of the network in the region such as Great Lakes Energy, Innovation Africa, Philips, Village Energy Uganda, We Care Solar and Solar Sister and others, alongside UN agencies and regional African governments, with senior representation across energy and health ministries. Special thanks to Dr. Neema Rusibamayila from the Tanzanian Health Ministry, who formally opened the workshop. Results were presented from UNF’s 260 health clinic energy audits undertaken in Ghana, Uganda and Malawi with our contractor African Solar Designs, and planned follow on steps. Deep dive discussions were held on areas such as technical and financial innovations and policy support needed in electrifying health facilities across Africa.
Highlighting the benefit of energy provision for health care delivery, one speaker noted seeing a 400% increase in female patients accessing the health clinics on average after a solar PV installation, while others reported successful deliveries increased five-fold in the year following installation.
Emerging from the deliberations were several significant recommendations, including the need to ensure that all health facilities have sufficient power to meet their existing and projected needs. Solutions need to be holistic, and not limited to one application; financial models for supporting and ensuring the ongoing maintenance of installed systems still need further strengthening to ensure that renewable energy solutions can fulfill their potential and not experience early failure. And getting more data on the linkages between improved energy services and health outcome improvements will help to drive stronger prioritization of energy issues within the public health community.
As we pivot to focus on the Climate Change Conference in Paris, where the world will soon come together to focus on collectively protecting our planet for the future, let’s highlight this opportunity to showcase that targeted deployment of sustainable energy solutions can help build resilience across communities, strengthen our health systems, and support a solid future for all the world’s children.
Executive Director, Energy Access, United Nations Foundation