ZAMBIA – The Government of Zambia has unveiled an Action Plan aiming to introduce solar technology to power health centers in underserved communities in line with the government’s goal of providing equitable quality service for all.
Off-grid energy systems including generators, renewable energy systems fueled by solar power, wind power or micro-hydro power, batteries and a combination of two or more of the above-mentioned technologies present a key opportunity to provide low carbon, reliable and cost-effective electricity.
Access to solar energy will ensure that various health facilities located remote from the electric grid are connected while safeguarding the availability of solar power for health centres with a grid connection which often face power outages.
Solar panels could save lives in rural parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where a lack of power and electricity has long prevented those living in poverty from accessing quality healthcare services
Solar energy offers an opportunity to reliably and sustainably power health care including lighting for safe emergency night-time care and childbirth, refrigeration for blood and vaccines, sterilization facilities as well as powering simple medical devices to improve the quality of healthcare services.
The Zambian Government developed the Action Plan to electrify health facilities using off-grid systems in partnership with the Zambian Health Coalition and the Off-Grid Taskforce in an effort to advance access to electricity which is paramount for the optimal functioning of a health facility.
Zambia’s plan to electrify rural healthcare facilities with solar comes at a time when over 70% of rural health facilities in the country have no access to electricity which often compromises the healthcare of more than 60% of the rural population.
Minister of Health Hon. Silvia Masebo launched the Action Plan accompanied by an Open Letter calling upon development partners and the private sector to support the solarization of health centres in the country during the Off-Grid Solar (OGS) Investment Forum held on 8th July 2022.
The event was an opportunity to raise awareness of the impact and opportunity for electrifying rural health facilities with appropriate solar technologies targeted at attracting public and private sector investment for energy in rural clinics and improving health outcomes for millions of Zambians.
Silvia Masebo stressed on the importance of access to reliable electricity in the delivery of essential health services while noting that the availability of electricity impacts the well-being of women and children for instance health facilities need electricity to power essential medical devices.
Hon. Masebo explained that COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the adverse effect of lack of electricity on health outcomes, noting that the lack of electricity made it difficult to treat patients in need of ventilators while the lack of refrigeration constrained the administration of the much-needed vaccines.
Moreover, the solarization of health centers will have a transformative effect on the lives of the rural and urban communities in Zambia such as creating opportunities for jobs and improve livelihoods while improving the quality of healthcare services and health outcomes.
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