The health sector is undoubtedly one of the crucial areas that impact a country’s ability to progress and develop. Healthy people contribute more to the development of their country.
Even though Malawi has made good progress in improving essential health services, there are still many gaps and challenges that need to be addressed.
Limited access to energy is one of the most serious challenges, with only about 59% of health facilities in the country accessing regular electricity from the Grid as of 2013/14.Health facilities often lack reliable power source of power for multiple purposes, including lighting for child delivery and emergency night-time healthcare, refrigeration of vaccines or electricity to power up medical and diagnostic equipment and many others
To address the challenges, therefore, a long-term strategic planning was needed.
Though a partnership between UNDP and UNICEF, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy, and Mining in Malawi, a national plan has been formulated to explore options for sustainable management and scaling up of renewable energy across the health sector.
The ‘Power for Health Masterplan’ compliments other efforts undertaken by UNDP to help solve the energy challenges currently hampering the social and economic growth in Malawi.
During a national Consultative Workshop organised by UNDP to present the draft power for health Masterplan to various stakeholders within the health and energy sector, The Minister of Health and Population, Honourable Atupele Muluzi commended the Power for Health Masterplan as a first of its kind in Malawi. He expressed his aspirations for the plan to stand as an example that can be replicated in other key social infrastructure.
“Providing effective healthcare is a major pillar of our development strategy. As our healthcare services develop, we need to ensure that we can provide reliable and sustainable power to all healthcare facilities. To ensure we can deliver reliable and sustainable power to all our health facilities we need to establish a strategic plan that makes best use of all available generation technologies and distribution systems”, said the Honourable Minister.
During the workshop, UNDP Resident Representative (Ad Interim), Ms. Claire Medina outlined a shared vision; “To empower the social sectors including the health sector to have more reliable and renewable energy access which provides a stable, clean and reliable energy supply, even in the most remote locations. It is therefore encouraging to see that investment in energy is garnering the attention it deserves from across different sectors, including the private sector”.
The workshop that was held in Lilongwe on the 29th January 2019 also included a presentation of findings from Energy Assessments of Central Health Facilities to gauge how renewable energy systems are currently being managed to meet user ends and to make recommendations to deliver reliable energy services in each Hospital, which would also result in cost-savings.
Although Malawi continues to face challenges across the country generating and distributing power, with only 10% of the country connected to the grid, there are tremendous opportunities available to attract and scale up more investment in renewable energy.
UNDP in Malawi is therefore working closely with the Government of Malawi to advance national energy priorities and working to promote a decentralized energy services from renewable energy sources such as clean mini grids; all of which is central to eradicating poverty and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.