Improving Health Care Services With Sustainable Energy
Nearly 60 % of refrigerators used in health clinics in Africa have unreliable electricity, compromising the safe storage of vaccines and medicines. Half of them are destroyed due to lack of refrigeration.
These are the findings of an Atlas released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2017.
“The lack of access to continuous electricity is frequent in this area of South Sudan impacts on health care services delivery. Many health facilities are forced to rely on diesel generators in order to obtain a few hours of daily power. Electricity shortages make it very difficult for referral health facilities like ours to attend to patients and handle delicate medical cases that may require surgical intervention” says Jackline Oyella, a nurse at the Ibba Primary Health Care Centre (PHCC) in Ibba County. Ibba PHCC is managed by the South Sudan programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I).
Due to inadequate access to primary and curative health services, South Sudan has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. In addition, over 30% of the country’s population does not have access to safe water supplies. Thus, one third of children under 5 suffer from diarrhea in South Sudan.
It is in this regard that the AAH-I has installed photovoltaic equipment for solar panels and water harvesting tanks in 25 health facilities in South Sudan’s central and western Equatoria regions. One of the facilities that benefitted from the installation include the Maridi State Hospital and the Ibba PHCC among others.
“The electricity and water challenges we faced had a negative impact on our ability to attend to patients and the quality of our services. All our facility’s units are now functional and efficient. Our patient attendance capacity has significantly improved,” says Ibba PHCC Manager Alex Marona. “Thanks to the solar panels, we can uphold World Health Organization health standards through improving and sustaining our vaccine cold chain management. We are able to maintain vaccines quality even when transport them outside the facility for immunization campaigns.”
A total of 8 water harvesting tanks were installed in order to address water scarcity, facilitate water collection and sustain basic sanitation and hygiene practices.
Although the project was implemented in 2015 with funding from Bread for the World, the benefits continue to be experienced by the communities we serve. This initiative was under AAH-I South Sudan’s regional primary health care project which aims to improve use, access and quality of health care services.