A major public health infrastructure which aims at improving healthcare facilities using solar power is being launched
According to the WHO, the greatest threat to global health in the twenty-first century is climate change. The 2019 Health care climate footprint assessment has observed that if the healthcare industry were a nation, it would be the fifth highest producer of greenhouse gases on the planet, even while half of the world's population still lacks access to basic health services.
Energy for Health - a collaboration between SELCO Foundation and IKEA Foundation, with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) and several State Health Mission, is a significant step towards transforming the public health infrastructure for improved sustainability. The initiative acknowledges that all efforts to modernise public health facilities around the world must place climate adaptation and mitigation at their core.
Almost 160,000 front-line healthcare workers at these medical facilities will have better working conditions thanks to the plan, which seeks to reach over 170 million people across the 12 states. This will provide about 100 MW of solar energy capacity to the nation over the course of 20 years and reduce more than 3 million tonnes of CO2e emissions throughout the country's 25,000 public health facilities. They will significantly advance India's Net-Zero goals while also bringing about a paradigm shift in the effective attainment of health goals for resource-constrained populations worldwide.
Speaking about the significance of this initiative globally, Maria Neira, Assistant Director-General, Division of Healthier Populations, and Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, at the WHO, “Reliable electricity in health-care facilities is essential to save lives and to provide quality health care. And yet, one billion people around the world are still served by health-care facilities without reliable electricity or with no electricity access at all. Decentralised renewable energies represent a key opportunity to accelerate electrification of health-care facilities, including in remote areas. I congratulate the Government of India and our partners from Selco Foundation and Ikea Foundation for this critical program, which will have a transformative impact on strengthening the health system”.
By 2026, the plan will provide 25,000 healthcare institutions in 12 states with solar energy solutions and high-performance electrical and medical equipment. There is variance in topography, socioeconomic vulnerability, illness load, and climate among the 12 states covered by this programme. This programme will serve as a showcase for innovation on ideas, concepts, and processes applicable for similar circumstances in other areas of the world thanks to the diversity among a few chosen locations.
Reflecting on India’s leadership in the effort, Harish Hande, CEO, SELCO Foundation said, “Affordable and equitable access to healthcare is a function of two aspects- one, resources required to deliver health care, and two, cost of accessing health care. Through this program, SELCO Foundation and IKEA Foundation, along with India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) and various State Health Missions, will showcase at scale how sustainable energy can be used to make health services affordable at the doorstep of the poor.”
The "Energy for Health" initiative benefits a wide range of stakeholders, including last-mile communities in their access to timely healthcare, health facility staff in ensuring a conducive work environment to provide quality services, the health sector in reducing energy and equipment-related costs and preventing the wastage of vaccines and other essential resources, and climate resilience building and carbon mitigation efforts while ensuring that all citizens achieve favourable health outcomes.
Per Heggenes, CEO of IKEA Foundation said, “‘At the IKEA Foundation, we strongly believe caring for the health of people and our planet must go hand-in-hand. This initiative will improve healthcare outcomes and reduce emissions, by providing reliable and renewable energy to thousands of clinics. Our hope is that the success of this programme can serve as a model for building effective and efficient health systems globally.’
In order to demonstrate ownership, management, and routine maintenance of the energy systems and appliances, the programme will develop systems and processes. Collectively, the 25,000 public health facilities will increase technical expertise, capacity, guidelines, and regulations that help health professionals at various levels prepare for public health infrastructure in a sustainable way. The programme will also strengthen the area's technical network for solar energy, which may indirectly benefit local businesses and encourage the use of solar power in other industries.