May 16, 2024

Life-Saving Solar Installations Power Hospitals Across Sierra Leone

As part of a project overseen by Sustainable Electricity for All (SEforALL), six major hospitals in Sierra Leone now have solar power systems with batteries installed, providing them with clean, dependable, and affordable electricity.

24/7 Essential Medical Care Now Available

In late 2023, the installations were finalized at six hospitals in Sierra Leone: Ola During Children’s Hospital (ODH), Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH), Masanga Hospital, as well as Kambia, Kabala, and Bonthe Government Hospitals. With a total installed capacity of 0.6 megawatt-peak, these hospitals are now equipped to deliver crucial medical services around the clock.

SEforALL Sierra Leone Country Manager Ngozi Beckley-Lines expressed satisfaction at seeing hospitals like Kambia, Bonthe, and Masanga equipped with solar panels, ensuring reliable, clean, and environmentally friendly power.

“This implies that communities can now start to anticipate significantly better service delivery and 24/7 essential medical care in these institutions. We are very happy that we are saving lives together,” Beckley-Lines added.

With backing from UK funding and in collaboration with partners such as Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health, Crown Agents, and EM-ONE Energy Solutions Canada, the project receives commendation from Sierra Leone’s Minister of Health, Dr. Austin Demby.

“We will undoubtedly make great progress towards achieving universal access and a gradual transition to clean and sustainable energy with such strong partnerships, investments, and government policies and regulations,” Demby remarked.

38% of Health Facilities Lack Access to Electricity

One of the significant yet often overlooked hurdles confronting healthcare systems in Africa is the unreliability of power, particularly within the healthcare sector, resulting in life-threatening complications and avoidable fatalities.

Sierra Leone stands out as one of the most affected nations, with recent analysis indicating that 38% of health facilities lack access to electricity. This issue is compounded by elevated rates of neonatal, infant, and under-five mortality, standing at 34, 82, and 111 deaths per 1,000 live births respectively, as reported by UNICEF, with 1,360 mothers per 100,000 live births.

The Sierra Leone Healthcare Electrification project demonstrates that this challenge is surmountable. The initiative is now expanding to include solar installations in an additional hospital and 25 community health centres nationwide. This initiative marks a transformative development for a nation committed to advancing high-quality, accessible, affordable, and equitable healthcare.

A collaborative report from the World Health Organization (WHO), SEforALL, and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in 2023 revealed that around 1 billion individuals in low and middle-income nations have access only to healthcare facilities with unreliable or no electricity. As an alternative, many rely on noisy, polluting, and costly diesel generators, which not only endanger patient health and safety but also harm the environment.

Model for Other Healthcare Centres

SEforALL predicts that the Sierra Leonean project will serve as a blueprint for powering hundreds of other healthcare centres nationally and internationally, opening doors for the expansion of local workforces focused on renewable energy sources.

Interestingly, the Sierra Leone Healthcare Electrification Project includes a 'Women in STEM' programme that trains twelve young women in project planning and execution. This programme gives the women vital practical experience that will help them grow in their professional paths in the emerging field of renewable energy.

SEforALL urges all stakeholders to unite and swiftly invest in renewable and dependable energy solutions to revolutionize the healthcare sector in low-income countries, aligning with UN Sustainable Development Goal 7.

The successful installation of solar power systems in six major hospitals across Sierra Leone represents a significant step towards improving healthcare delivery and saving lives, urging stakeholders to invest in sustainable energy solutions to address healthcare challenges in low-income countries.

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