By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
ABUJA: With less than 6,000 of the over 30,000 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in Nigeria working effectively, stakeholders in the health and energy industry have called for improved access to Clean Reliable Electricity for these PHCs in Nigeria.
This is just as they noted that many of the PHCs are in remote rural locations and peri-urban communities, where access to grid electricity is limited.
According to the World Bank, over 80 million Nigerians representing 60% of the country’s population lack access to grid electricity. These and many more, led to the convening of a High Level Stakeholder Engagement in Abuja, to achieve solutions through dialogue.
The high level multi-stakeholder solution driven event, which is the first of its kind, is set to carve a path for improved primary healthcare services delivery in Nigeria by triggering and exploring avenues to achieve clean reliable electricity access for public health facilities in the country.
Speaking in his opening remarks, the Executive Director, Rural Electrification Agency(REA) Dr. Sanusi Ohiare, said that providing and increasing energy access through clean reliable energy is critical to deliver the required socioeconomic benefits that would improve lives in Nigeria.
Ohiare noted that through various pilot projects within the context of rural electrification, it has been proven that clean reliable energy technologies, its economics and business models work especially for enhancing small and medium businesses, creating wealth and stimulating wider development co-benefits where health facilities becomes anchors for distributed energy generation in new communities.
According to him, “We are in no doubt about the capacity of leveraging clean reliable energy potential to transform and catalyse a sustainable PHC across the country. But to do this, we must identify new brokerage opportunities that can drive improved access to electricity for PHCs”.
Giving the report of an index study conducted on the connection between primary healthcare and availability of light,which sampled 60 Primary Health Care Centres, 10 in each of the area councils in the Federal Capital Territory, the Co-lead Researcher, Mr. Tunde Salman revealed that majority of the primary healthcare centres, particularly those located in rural areas and most communities are not functioning at optimal levels.
He noted that dilapidated infrastructure, the disconnection from the national grid where some of those facilities are connected to the grids and majority of the locations are not connected to the grid, were some of the realities that stared them in the face in these areas.
“What’s the essence of building 30, 000 Primary Healthcare Centres that are not functioning? Majority of these Primary Healthcare Centres are not put to optimal use because of lack of water, lack of electricity and electricity, energy is central even to the provision of water”, he remarked.
He pointed out that health is an essential social service, adding that the Primary Healthcare Centres with solar technology can offload some of the excess electricity.
The report further recommended that: “When building new PHCCs, care must be taken to ensure that proper provisions are made to ensure they are functional; Central to their functionality should be adequate provision of equipment and clean reliable energy to power the facilities.
“PHCs particularly those located in remote places should be eligible to benefit from the Power Consumer Assistant Fund.
“Rural Electrification Agency, in collaboration with National Primary Healthcare Development Agency(NPHCDA), can provide off-grid solar PV systems with battery backup to thousands of PHCCs across the country”.
For his part, the Project Coordinator, Heinrich Böll Foundation Nigeria, Donald Ofoegbu, while speaking on the reason for convening the event, said that without Electricity, efforts to enhance human capital development is bound to fail.
He stressed that worthy of urgency, is the need to review the energy experiences in PHCs and explore new thinking, new partnership and new avenues to scale-up practices that can remedy the connection between improving access to clean reliable electricity which is needed to improve the functionality of Primary Healthcare Centres in Nigeria; thus forcing a turnaround in the country’s poor health indicators.