• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
businessday logo


Solar-powered clinics can improve healthcare for pregnant women – study

Solar-powered clinics can improve healthcare for pregnant women – study

Deploying solar in primary healthcare centers can improve Nigeria’s antenatal care coverage by up to 20 percent a new study by the Boston Consulting Group, commissioned by Shell-seeded off-grid energy investment firm, All On, has found.

About 50 percent of pregnant women rely on primary healthcare centers for Antenatal Care (ANC) services across Nigeria, however most Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs) are unable to adequately meet the ANC demands of pregnant women. Some clinics lack grid power while some with grid connections are underserved.

According to the report, titled ‘Socio-economic case for deepening solar PV deployment in Nigeria,’ inadequate power supply was identified as a main challenge to providing ANC with about 60 percent of PHCs without access to reliable electricity.

As a result of the power challenges, PHC’s are unable to power laboratory equipment to conduct prenatal tests, and they also dedicate fewer hours per week for ANC both scheduled and unscheduled appointments.

“However, findings from our primary survey reveal that enhancing PHC’s access to power supply can double the number of women receiving ANC at PHC’s, the report said.

“Scaled deployment of solar to PHC without reliable electricity could increase the number of pregnant women receiving ANC services through; reduced equipment downtime from grid power failure, and increased operating hours dedicated to ANC,” the report said.

Read also: Nigerians vulnerable as healthcare costs push over 500m into poverty

Some local governments lack the resources to power the clinics with diesel generators and sometimes vaccines and other drugs expire easily.

The report said deploying solar in Nigerian primary
healthcare centers could reduce vaccine waste by around 40 to 60 percent, and lead to around 10 to 20 percent reduction in vaccine wastage rate.

This is troubling because immunization coverage in Nigeria is low, with only about 20 percent of children (aged 12-23months) estimated to have received all recommended vaccine doses, against around 70 percent in peer countries.

Despite the abysmal immunization coverage, around 30 percent of vaccines delivered to PHC’s go to waste, with poor power supply contributing about 50 percent of this waste, the report said.

However, findings from the study revealed that PHC’s with solar were able to adequately power their refrigerators which reduced avoidable vaccine waste and increased availability of vaccines at their facilities.

“Solar powered refrigerators can ensure adequate refrigeration of vaccines to prevent wastage, and increase vaccine availability,” the report said.