Energy efficient health care facilities hold great potential for creating stronger and more resilient healthcare systems. Such energy is vital to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals especially SDG 3 on good health and wellbeing as well as SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy which the United Nations hopes to achieve by the year 2030.
With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is clear that the world can no longer go on having health care facilities without electricity as energy is essential for the proper functioning of healthcare appliances. Research findings by the WHO has shown that an estimated 1 billion people globally are still served by healthcare facilities without electricity. Access to energy is important in ensuring that healthcare facilities are delivered in a timely manner.
Tapping into clean energy for health care is not a far fetched dream as ongoing projects in Kenya as well as other countries have shown that this dream is closer to reality than it is just a dream. Kenya’s off grid Solar Access Project (KOSAP) for Underserved Counties which is helping provide healthcare facilities with clean energy using solar solutions is evidence of efforts being made towards the realization of clean energy for hospitals. This has actually helped build Kenya’s institutional capacity in terms of health care. Closer home, Uganda has the Energy for Rural Transformation Project which provides electricity for healthcare facilities in rural areas.
The use of renewable energy in hospitals offers a lot of advantages including reduced energy costs, improved public health, environmental conservation and stable energy sources among others. Despite all these benefits, the adoption of renewable energy for hospitals does not go without challenges. Some of the challenges include high initial investment, the inability to produce enough energy, the lack of availability of energy in all parts of the country as well as the source’s vulnerability due to weather conditions and other climatic factors. Strategic planning and action needs to be taken to ensure the mitigation of these challenges.
The world, and especially developing countries should be on the forefront in moving to renewable energy for healthcare. This can be done by making climate change fundamentally about people’s lives, their children’s health and their communities’ well being.
Healthcare actors can show leadership through engaging in projects to ensure energy supply in hospitals. Non healthcare actors as well as businesses can include such projects in their sustainable business models as this will go a long way in showing their commitment to sustainability, environmental conservation, community health as well as humanity. The government should be on the first line in ensuring resource availability, favorable market conditions and government policy support on the road to providing clean energy for healthcare.