The world’s major health goals cannot be achieved without universal access to quality health care. This is especially true in areas where health systems are weak and under-resourced, as these areas are where the majority of preventable maternal and child deaths occur. One important, but often overlooked, building block of health service delivery is the availability of electricity in health facilities.
When health facilities have sufficient and reliable power, women can more safely give birth at night in well-lit delivery rooms, medical equipment can be powered and better sterilized and clinics can preserve life-saving vaccines for newborns, children and adults.
Yet, it is estimated that tens of thousands of health centers across low- and middle-income countries lack electricity. A similar number of hospitals suffer from frequent and debilitating blackouts. In parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, it is estimated that only 28% of health facilities have access to reliable electricity.
This lack of access to power compromises the ability to provide both routine and emergency health care.
Worldwide, over 289,000 women die every year from pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications, many of which could be averted with the provision of better lighting and other electricity-dependent medical services.
Many diseases such as pneumonia and measles can be prevented through immunizations, yet they still kill approximately 1.7 million children each year, predominantly in developing countries. Unreliable electricity supply compromises vaccine refrigeration, and a significant share of vaccines delivered to developing countries is ruined due to poor cold chain services.
In low-income countries, many health care acquired infections are attributable to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) at health facilities, which in itself is generally dependent on access to power for water pumping and water purification.
An estimated 70% of medical devices in developing countries fail, with poor power quality a major contributing factor.
Our mission is to improve access to quality, essential health care services by promoting universal electrification of health facilities by 2030
The UN Foundation helps build partnerships and initiatives to advance UN priorities and has been working closely with UN leaders and partners for nearly a decade to advance sustainable energy for all.
At the request of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative, we launched an effort in 2013 to explore innovative clean energy solutions for health facilities, initiating a pilot in Uganda and Ghana that will conclude in 2019, to build evidence and knowledge about the potential to improve access to quality, essential health care services by promoting universal electrification of health facilities by 2030. We do this through a heightened commitment to universal energy access and health coverage and multi-sectoral approaches to sustainable development, and by drawing on recent advances in clean energy.
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