The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Power Africa and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) have funded USD 1 million grant for two years to support African governments and the donor community to coordinate and assist national health facility electrification efforts.
The COVID-19 pandemic has focused attention on the inequalities and vulnerabilities o f health systems across the world. The lack of reliable power in health facilities undermines the quality of healthcare for millions of people, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly 60 percent of all health centres do not have access to electricity, and of those that do, only 34 percent of hospitals and 28 percent of health clinics have reliable access.
This means that nearly 60 percent of refrigerators used in health clinics in Africa do not have reliable electricity necessary for the safe storage of vaccines and medicines. In fact, half of all vaccines distributed globally are ruined due to lack of refrigeration.
Medicine and vaccine storage is only a part of an ongoing problem. Worldwide, more than 289,000 women die every year from pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications, a tragedy that could be mitigated with better lighting and other electricity-dependent medical services.
Heightened awareness of these issues and global recognition of the need for universal energy access and strengthened health systems—in part because of the current COVID-19 pandemic—coupled with recent advances in off-grid energy solutions, present a timely opportunity to improve access to quality healthcare and make health facilities more resilient. Off-grid renewable energy solutions can provide clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity to hospitals and health centres in countries with significant electricity access gaps.
Deploying these solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa, however, requires overcoming significant barriers, including lack of long-term financing and sustainable business models, incomplete and/or outdated data resources, poor stakeholder and donor coordination, and limited enabling policies that support sustainable service delivery.
Power Africa and SEforALL will equip target governments and their development partners with the necessary building blocks to identify, power, and sustainably maintain health facilities by 2030.
SEforALL is a valued Power Africa development partner with a track record in working at the nexus of the energy and health sectors and operationalizing partnerships at the international level through its Powering Healthcare initiative. Several SEforALL resources are also featured in USAID’s Powering Health Toolkit.
Working in close coordination with the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNDP, the Global Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the Rockefeller Foundation, and USAID, the programme will provide African decision-makers with the knowledge and tools required to drive faster and more efficient progress toward universal electrification of health facilities in Africa.
In addition to strengthening political and technical cooperation and knowledge exchange among relevant development partners and government health and energy institutions, SEforALL will source the necessary data and critical research to build a powerful evidence base to support effective strategies and policies to power health facilities, drawing particularly on the latest sector intelligence, mapping and impact research to more accurately quantify the current number of health facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa and their energy needs.
SEforALL will also provide thought leadership to identify and develop sustainable business models, policies and quality assurances needed to leverage public and private sector investment in health facilities, unlock blended financing mechanisms to de-risk investments, and spur the uptake of appropriate technology innovations. Power Africa and SEforALL will also work together to provide strategic and technical advisory services to support several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to develop roadmaps to sustainably electrify their health facilities.
Power Africa’s Coordinator, Mark Carrato said, “This grant supports stronger and more resilient health systems in Sub-Saharan Africa by accelerating the development and deployment of clean energy and sustainable investment in health facilities. Our collaboration with SEforALL complements Power Africa’s many other initiatives at the intersection of healthcare and electricity provision, including the recent grants to nine distributed renewable energy companies to power health facilities. These companies and others like them will benefit from the coordination SEforALL will facilitate while providing valuable information on health facilities’ needs and the viability of different health facility electrification business models.”
Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, said “In many areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, healthcare centres are operating without sufficient, reliable electricity, putting patients’ lives in danger. Ensuring everyone has access to quality health services powered by sustainable energy is a matter of equality. SEforALL and Power Africa are taking bold steps that will enable investment in health facility electrification in areas where local populations are most at risk.”