eHealth Africa, a Non-Government Organisation (NGO), has urged government to increase investment in renewable energy to bridge power supply gaps in healthcare facilities in rural areas.
The group’s Executive Director, Atef Fawaz, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to him, the call becomes imperative because improved power supply through renewable energy can reduce the avoidable mortality rate in healthcare facilities.
He said that the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has found that up to a billion people worldwide depend on healthcare facilities that lack sufficient power supply.
He added that another study on the condition of healthcare facilities in developing countries revealed that over 60 per cent of such facilities lack reliable power supply.
He, therefore, said: “It is quite disturbing that healthcare facilities that are mostly already overstretched due to inadequate personnel and equipment are still battling with insufficient power supply when their activities largely depend on it.
“It is no more news that Nigeria is battling with power supply, with generation hovering within 4,500 – 5,000 megawatts nationwide and distribution even much lower.
“This, no doubt, makes it difficult or impossible for power supply to reach rural areas and directly impact healthcare facilities.”
It is quite disturbing that healthcare facilities that are mostly already overstretched due to inadequate personnel and equipment are still battling with insufficient power supply when their activities largely depend on it.
Fawaz said that inadequate power supply and little or no investment in alternative sources had to a large extent limited the quality of medical equipment that could be used in healthcare facilities.
He explained that “this is because most of the medical apparatus depend on power supply to function effectively.”
He said that there were stories of patients who had reportedly lost their lives due to poor medical attention caused by epileptic power supply, especially in primary healthcare services.
He said the situation had increased maternal and child mortality rates in primary healthcare, especially in rural areas as health facilities continue to experience erratic power supply without alternative sources of power.
He said: “For instance, we have the opportunity to deliver vaccines to primary healthcare facilities in Sokoto State but many of them lack cold chain equipment to maintain them at the right temperature.
“This is partly due to insufficient power supply in the facilities and sadly this impacts the number of children that can be immunised against vaccine-preventable diseases in the state.
“And unfortunately, this is the case in many states across the federation.”
Fawaz said that big hospitals currently depend on generating sets to perform surgical operations and other medical procedures.
He added that “unfortunately, with an upward review in the cost of petroleum products like the Premium Motor Spirit and diesel, it means the cost of running healthcare centres will become more expensive.”
He said that sadly, the burden would be on the poor masses, already struggling to afford basic things of life.
He said this was why people self-medicate through their ailment until it becomes severe and sometimes leads to death. (NAN)