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The Government of Zambia launched an Action Plan to chart the path forward to provide reliable and affordable electricity to the unserved health centres using solar to improve quality of services for poor and vulnerable people. This aligns with the government’s Vision 2030 to provide equitable and quality services for all.
For optimal operation of a hospital, electricity is essential. This includes lighting for emergency care, childbirth, refrigeration, vaccines and sterilization, as well as powering medical devices and simple medical equipment. Over 70% of Zambia’s rural hospitals do not have electricity. This compromises the health of over 60% of the rural population.
Furthermore, many of the health facilities are located too far from the grid to be connected and even those with a grid connection often face power outages. Therefore, off-grid solutions present a key opportunity to provide low carbon, reliable and cost-effective electricity to improve the quality of healthcare services.
The Action Plan which was accompanied by a Call to Action to development partners and the private sector to support the solarization of health centers in the country, was launched by the Minister of Health Hon. Silvia Masebo, MP, at the Off-Grid Solar (OGS) Investment Forum on July 8, 2022.
Speaking during the event, Hon Masebo noted that the importance of access to reliable electricity in the delivery of essential health services cannot be over-emphasized. It impacts on the well-being of women and children.
She pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the adverse effect of lack of electricity on health outcomes. It made it difficult to treat patients in need of ventilators and the lack of refrigeration constrained the administration of the much-needed vaccines.
“It is in this regard that the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Health and Power for All, in collaboration with other stakeholders, have developed this Action Plan which seeks to assist in making deliberate plans to electrify health facilities using off-grid systems. The collaboration further has a Call to Action, a letter that highlights the urgent action needed to invest in the electrification of the health facilities to improve the quality of services and outcomes,” she said.
The Action Plan was developed in partnership with the Zambian Health Coalition and the Off-Grid Task force.
“We congratulate the Zambia government through the Ministry of Health and Energy for this milestone. It marks the beginning of accelerating not only SDG3 on health but also SDG7 on Universal Energy Access and this will also create opportunities for jobs and improving livelihoods. The solarization of health centers will have a transformative effect on the lives of the rural and urban communities in Zambia. We would also like to acknowledge the role of the Zambian Health Coalition and the Off-Grid Task force,” said Anand Pathanjali, Power for All Partnerships and Campaigns Manager while speaking at the event.
The Zambia Off-Grid Investment Forum
The forum was hosted by the Ministry of Energy with support from the UKAID-funded Africa Clean Energy Technical Assistance Facility (ACE-TAF) and Power for All. In Zambia, ACE TAF has demonstrated the impact of focusing on the nexus between energy and other sectors like health.
The event brought together high-level international and domestic private sector investors and business communities – representatives of social impact, health care and finance to explore areas of collaboration. It also aimed to raise awareness of the impact and opportunity for electrifying rural health facilities with appropriate solar technologies, thus attracting public and private sector investment for energy in rural clinics and improving health outcomes for millions of Zambians.