Reviving health service delivery through renewable energy
Embracing the Power of the Sun: How solarizing Health Facilities is powering healthcare in South Sudan
At Gurei Primary Health Center, in Juba, South Sudan, a new solar system is powering not only the lights and equipment crucial for quality healthcare but also the hopes and dreams of the local community.
Thanks to the partnership between the Ministry of Health and the World Bank, UNICEF is installing solar power in health facilities across South Sudan.
So far, over 100 health and nutrition facilities are now connected with solar power, with an aim of reducing reliance on fuel for generators and increasing access to healthcare services.
According to Sarafino Dogali - the facility coordinator, the solarisation of the center has improved access to clean water and boosted security aiding services to over 250 outpatients received per day.
“When we first had the news of solar installation in our facility, our midwives’ work became easy.
Delivering babies wasn’t interrupted again because they no longer had to run to get torches, when the power would go off.
“Secondly, the installation has improved our WASH component; our patients now drink clean water; they wash their hands after visiting rest rooms or after eating; and this has made the facility conducive for all the users, and the patients are very happy,” said Dogali.
The solar power connection has also significantly helped the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), contributing to over 200 children per day receiving vaccinations, according to Dogali.
Maryline Sebit Angelo, who had brought her newborn child for immunization, revealed that the facility has led to the safe delivery and medication of her first three children in the past years.
“Today, I brought my third child for immunization because I was told immunization is important for children. And this facility has been so important for me and all my children. At times when all my children are sick, I bring them here, and they are treated well,” she said.
"Without this facility, many people in this area would have suffered a lot, and our children wouldn’t thrive," she added.
Margaret Poni Thomas is a nurse midwife working at the facility's maternity ward. Margaret, who says her department receives around 11 mothers giving birth each day, acknowledged the roles the new solar power has created in the lives of children and women.
“The installation of the solar power has made my job of helping children and mothers better. Since the installation, we no longer face the challenges of struggling to use torches to deliver babies at night.”
“And with solar power now, the future looks bright. Imagine previously, we would struggle to power refrigerators to store our drugs and vaccines."
But the solarisation has made our EPI refrigerators stable. We are thankful to UNICEF and World Bank for the great work.
Regina Gohan is a 19-year-old mother of one who gave birth at the facility four months ago.
“When my labor started, I came to this facility for delivery because of so many reasons. For example, for the doctors to come and see my situation and that of the child as well, in case of issues related to surgery, they could easily attend to me.
When I was pregnant as well, I got offered all the antenatal care services at the facility here from the first day of my pregnancy until I gave birth
For Dr. Jude Koma, Juba County Coordinator for Health Link who manages Gurei health center with 16 other facilities in the State, the solarisation is a huge game changer for revolutionising health care services across South Sudan, especially in efforts to reduce infant and maternal mortality.”
“With the solarisation, there is a big difference because the facility can operate and function 24 hours now. This has boosted security at the facility, full-time functional EPI, and maternal ward operationalization. And this has improved our delivery of services overall.”
“Additionally, the solar does not use fuel or generators, and therefore we are not spending huge sums of money to keep the generators on. This has created better sustainability at the Gurei health facility,” said Koma.
The COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness (CERHSP), a UNICEF South Sudan project implemented in partnership with the World Bank and the Ministry of Health, aims to strengthen health service delivery for the communities in South Sudan.