UNICEF on Monday handed over a solar-powered energy system to the Ministry of Health at Chiwoza Health Centre in Lilongwe rural.
Nineteen other solar power systems have also been installed at health centres in nine other districts across the country.
Solar power energy will ensure that the health centres have reliable & climate-friendly electricity 24/7.
These solar power energy systems will help to safely store essential vaccines such as COVID19 & Polio vaccines in health facilities in hard-to-reach areas. They will also significantly benefit the upcoming Polio vaccination campaign and routine immunization for children under five years old.
Speaking after the ceremony, Deputy Minister of Health Enock Phale said 84% of the population in Malawi live in rural areas and 24% does not live within eight kilometers of a health facility and it is the desire of the Government of Malawi, using every available opportunity, to ensure equitable access to basic health services amongst all Malawians.
“This is especially important for those who live in rural areas where access to health services remains a key challenge due to among other factors, inadequate availability of community health service delivery structures such as health posts and because most of health facilities especially health posts do not have electricity supply to support electrical medical equipment including lighting.
“Our Ministry in collaboration with donors and partners, has found it necessary to invest in Solar PV systems installation in health facilities especially health posts in hard-to-reach areas where electricity is not available. This project which has resulted in 20 Health facilities having access to solar electricity is part of the Ministry’s implementation of the National Community Health priorities,” said Phale.
The Minister also noted that the Ministry of Health will continue this program to ensure that all health facilities especially health posts have uninterruptible, sustainable and clean electricity supply that can support medical equipment such as fridges which are a must have in as far as vaccine storage is concerned.
He then thanked donors, partners and private sector for their continued support to the Government in the implementation of Community Health in Malawi which is key to the Ministry’s quest to attain the national and health goals and targets such as sustainable development goals (SGDs)and Universal Health Coverage areas.
In his remarks, UNICEF Deputy Representative Gerrit Maritz said improved health service delivery is the core of ensuring a healthy and productive population that can contribute to the development of Malawi, and many health facilities in the country are experiencing obstacles in providing quality healthcare due to a lack of electricity.
“What you are seeing at Chiwoza Health Centre today is the commendable commitment from UNICEF and the Government to boost access to reliable electricity in health facilities in rural areas. This year, we all saw Tropical Storm Ana’s impact on healthcare delivery. Many facilities had no electricity for several days. These new solar power energy systems will help prevent such scenarios and allow continuous functioning of services at the health facilities even in natural calamities, such as floods.
“At UNICEF, children and mothers are the heart of our work. The solar power energy systems are expected to positively impact maternal and newborn health services for more than 300,000 mothers and children living in the beneficiary communities,” said Maritz.
He also noted that the availability of uninterrupted power supply will support the delivery of babies and newborn care at night, which was a previously big challenge due to lack of lights and inability to use medical equipment.
According to Maritz, UNICEF is also focusing on capacity building by carrying out training exercises for the health facility staff, staff house members, and district technicians on effectively using the system and carrying out basic preventive maintenance.
The health facilities which have benefited are from Mzimba, Kasungu, Ntchisi, Lilongwe, Mchinji Balaka, Blantyre, Chikhwawa Machinga and Nsanje.