A proper assessment of public health infrastructure is needed for ensuring energy access
Ranchi, 21 August: Center for Environment & Energy Development (CEED) and Selco Foundation organised a webinar today on ‘Energy & Health Integration: Strengthening the Health Infrastructure in Jharkhand through DRE’ to work towards easing out the burden of the health sector in the post-Covid-19 world through the accessibility of quality power in health institutions and enhancing the scope of health services to the people in dire needs. Considering the 24×7 nature of operations, health care is one of the most energy-intensive sectors and access to energy is fundamental to universal health care coverage.
However, there exists several barriers in addition to electricity access confronting rural healthcare like availability of skilled medical staff and lack of prioritisation and planning for healthcare services in rural areas, etc. For instance, around 80% of the Public Health Centres (PHCs) in India do not meet the prescribed standard and more than 54% of PHCs in Jharkhand have a shortage of basic health facilities and 24×7 electricity supply to the PHCs and the city hospitals is a major challenge. The inadequate power supply to health centres in rural areas often affects the efficacy of healthcare services.
Although, the role of renewable energy, particularly of Decentralised Renewable Energy (DRE) in rural healthcare services has not got sufficient attention as a health solution, but in the era of climate change impact there is a compelling argument in favour of DRE supporting the rural healthcare sector and delivering health goals most effectively and sustainably possible. Since Jharkhand has a decentralised health infrastructure in place, so DRE suits with its customisation and flexible attributes and is capable to reach people at the last mile in the tribal hamlets and rural areas.
Emphasising the role of Energy and Health integration, which can be instrumental in meeting the Renewable energy targets of the state and improving on the health-related goals, Mr Bharatesh K Shetty, Senior Manager Health, Selco Foundation said that, “Various applications of DRE can be instrumental in providing an array of services and supports in during medical emergencies through solar-based cold storage, vaccine refrigerator, baby warmer, and portable health care kits, etc. This will have a huge and positive impact in terms of improving on major health indicators”.
Bringing insights from other states on improving the health services, Ms Divya Kottadiel, Communications Director, Power for All said, “Several Indian states have demonstrated that DRE solutions can transform rural healthcare quickly and affordably so communicating these lessons and engaging with various stakeholders have the potential to catalyse scaling up such initiatives in Jharkhand as well”.
The large-scale social change requires broad ecosystem change and collaborative effort from other departments as well. A representative of Jharkhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (JREDA) agreed that
DRE solutions (such as Solar Rooftop) have been useful in improving the electricity supply to the heath centres. For replicating it a larger level, a proper assessment of future prospect and a joint initiative is needed in alignment with the health, energy and other departments in the state.”
The speakers at the webinar unanimously agreed that there should be a proper assessment of public health infrastructure from the point of energy access and there is need of to bring in the ecosystem of various stakeholders to explore, engage and collaborate toward achieving common identified goals in health and renewable energy integration. Indeed, DRE can be a game-changer in strengthening the rural health infrastructure of Jharkhand and can also be instrumental in providing better services in the times of Covid-19 pandemic.
The webinar witnessed constructive discussions from the representatives of government departments such as health, energy, urban and rural development, renewable energy developers, think-tanks, civil society organisations, academia and other key stakeholders.
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