Six hospitals get reliable, life-saving power systems in Sierra Leone
Last week marked the successful commissioning of a transformational project in Sierra Leone that has electrified six key hospitals with decentralized solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and batteries.
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation celebrated this milestone at Ola During Children’s Hospital in Freetown, one of the six electrified hospitals, along with Ms. Kate Foster, UK Africa Director at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), UK Government, and Ms. Lisa Chesney, British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone
The new energy systems provide a combined installed capacity of nearly 0.6 megawatt-peak (MWp) to the six hospitals. They were designed taking into account the current and future energy needs of the health facilities. In most cases, they have replaced unreliable and polluting diesel generators, providing a more consistent supply of dependable and clean power for the critical infrastructure used by doctors and nurses to treat patients.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Austin H. Demby said, “[These hospitals] have gone through a transition that will forever change the way healthcare is delivered in the country. Before this time, they relied on the national grid and backup generators, which were very expensive to run and, in some cases, cost 20% of the budget of the hospitals, which is not sustainable. The health sector will work assiduously to go green”.
The project has been funded by the UK and implemented by Sustainable Energy for All in partnership with Crown Agents and EM-ONE Energy Solutions. The overall goal is to enable improved delivery of healthcare, especially maternal and child health services, in unelectrified or poorly electrified facilities, through improved access to modern, affordable, and sustainable electricity services.
In March 2023, SEforALL published a Market Assessment and Roadmap for Health Facilities in Sierra Leone, which revealed that 38 percent of health facilities lack reliable access to energy. Detailed energy audits of major hospitals were also conducted, following which 6 of them, located in Freetown, Kambia, Masanga, Kabala and Bonthe, were selected for electrification.
Dr. Ayeshatu Mustapha, the Medical Superintendent at Ola During hospital, heartily welcomes the intervention. “The electrical and solar installation for the hospital is life changing. 70 to 80 babies and children are receiving critical care every day, which needs reliable and sustainable energy. The medical equipment will last longer, and there is economic benefit to the hospital as the funds can now be directed to other necessary equipment”, he said.
To ensure that the energy systems and the associated benefits of the project are sustained in the long run, the project partners are developing a model for longer-term operations and maintenance (O&M) and training hospital staff to be involved in this effort, as well as creating a framework to monitor and evaluate the health and environmental impacts over time.
“Such a comprehensive model for health facility electrification beyond this current project is another major outcome of this work. We are already beginning to see results on the ground, with healthcare workers able to offer medical services late into the night and operate equipment which requires a steady power connection. This project is going to impact thousands of lives”, said Madhusagar Singh, Project Manager (Powering Healthcare Project), Sierra Leone, SEforALL.