INDIA –The Meghalaya government plans to build 75 new, climate-resilient health centers in remote areas.

Majority of these health centres are susceptible to climate variability, severely impacting the well-being of patients, auxiliary nurses, and midwives who run and maintain the facilities.

According to the reports, the state government has entrusted Sauramandala Foundation for capacity building and designs, while Selco Foundation will serve as its technical partner.

An official of the Sauramandala Foundation said, “We are trying to incorporate sustainable designs in the structures in the areas of renewable energy and water conservation.”

The official stated that each of these centres will be constructed for Rs 50 Lakh (US$63,049). The structures will be constructed in such a way as to make them resistant to strong winds, earthquakes, landslides, and extremely low temperatures.

These health centres will ensure the utilization of absolute lowest amount of energy for lighting and ventilation, which will be supplemented with solar energy and energy-saving gadgets.

Now, the government intends to implement a solar power programme for the state’s rural health centres and to enhance their overall performance.

The state government has teamed with the SELCO Foundation to use solar technology to power the remaining 342 sub-centres and 122 primary health centers (PHCs) across the state in order to satisfy the health needs of the vulnerable population in distant areas of the State.

Solar technology to power remote health centres

Soon, Meghalaya’s remote healthcare facilities will be fueled by solar energy. Till now, up to 100 health centres in remote Meghalayan communities now have solar-powered appliances installed by the state government.

Energy-saving equipment, such as a radiant warmer, suction apparatus, spotlight, solar direct drive vaccine refrigeration, and luminaries, was installed and made functional.

Meanwhile, the Sauramandala Foundation and the Selco Foundation have successfully installed solar power in around 100 health sub-centres in 11 remote districts and villages of Meghalaya, with the state government covering 70% of the cost.

This successful mission has been powered by solar technology under a pilot program of the National Health Mission (NHM).

According to the Meghalaya Health Department, the state government has teamed with the SELCO Foundation to use solar technology to power the remaining 342 sub-centres and 122 primary health centers (PHCs) across the state in order to satisfy the health needs of the vulnerable population in distant areas of the State.

This partnership between the Government of Meghalaya, Sauramandala Foundation (on-ground partner), and SELCO Foundation (technical knowledge partner) seeks to create a scalable model for the facilities to be, resilient and strongly equipped to meet the needs of the poorest communities,” – a Sauramandala Foundation official explained.

The intervention will greatly benefit from solar energy, which can power essential healthcare services like immunization, maternal care, deliveries, and diagnostics, and contribute to increasing monitoring including vaccination of COVID-19 among others.

This is true regardless of the difficult terrain, remoteness, vulnerability to climate risks, and natural disasters of rural habitations.

Joint Secretary, Health Department, Ram Kumar, who also heads the National Health Mission stated, “Having consistent energy flow into the health systems builds the confidence among people on the services provided by the health systems.”

He said the goal is to ensure that these health centers, regardless of their location, have stable power and that services are available 24/7.

Health centers are sustained on their own in terms of power so that there is no dependency on external power as well as have an efficient system of monitoring them,” he further stated.

Dr. Harish Hande, CEO of SELCO Foundation, stated that the company is honored to work with the government of Meghalaya.

In this existing programme of 100 sub-centers in the State, which can then be a model for countries to replicate and by using solar energy, we can democratize the delivery of health to the last mile people,” he stated.

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