Solar Power: A Shot in the Arm for India’s Health Centers
Tens of thousands health centers in India have little or no power supply which is why they are now looking for alternative ways to stay functional. To change that, a pilot project was launched to set up replicable, cost-effective solar power plants at health centers.
The Indian Council of Medical Research and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW, GGHH member), a non-profit research institute, are collaborating to light up three centers and meet their essential operational requirements.
“The aim… is to create resilient health systems in rural India, benefiting primarily women and children,” said Soumya Swaminathan, director-general of the medical research council.
“Illnesses do not come based on the time electricity is available. Any time a patient comes, electricity should be available to enable quality health services.”
Nearly 35 million people in rural India relied on un-electrified primary health centres as of 2015, according to government data.
One in every two primary health centres has no electricity or suffers from power outages, Swaminathan said.
A 2016 CEEW report states that only a fifth of primary health centres meet Indian public health standards, which includes having functional infrastructure for electricity.
“We came across instances where long power cuts forced doctors to rush vaccines to another health center 20-odd kilometers away, only to discover that there was no electricity there either,” said Aditya Ramji of the CEEW.