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The Kaduna Solar for Health Programme

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By Mercy Kelani

Solar-powered energy ensures stable power supply for service delivery.

Three years ago, in Idon Rural Hospital in Kaduna State, the installation of a 47.5KvA microgrid on the hospital premises led to a poor power supply, which crippled critical services such as maternal care, immunization and emergency response. Gladys Yakasai, a nurse at the hospital, said that cases that ought to be treated at the hospital were referred to other health centres, about 30 to 100 kilometres away, as a result of outages. The hospital used to be afraid to admit pregnant women in labour and patients who needed emergency treatments.

This was so because the hospital had low electricity to power equipment and the fossil fuel-powered generator had no reliability. However, ever since the installation of the solar system in 2020, the hospital has had stable power supply that aids perfect service delivery, even for emergency conditions in the night. Now, the hospital handles two to three childbirth every week, and even more sometimes. Also, the hospital is able to treat victims of accident and critical cases of diarrhoea, typhoid, malaria, and others.

It has brought about a transformation in Idon Rural Hospital.

Yakasai added that the solar energy helps the hospital to ensure storage of vaccines at appropriate degrees or temperatures and regular administration of immunization. Now, an average of 50 children are vaccinated per week, in comparison to below 20 when there used to be power outages. Apart from routine immunization, many people also come to the hospital for COVID-19 vaccination. Without stable power supply, it would have been impossible for Idon Rural Hospital to render these health services.

Prior to the installation of the solar-powered energy, vaccines used get spoilt in the freezers. Godiya Aboibarho, current head of the immunization unit, joined the hospital two years ago, but asserted that she was told how terrible things used to be at the hospital. She added that people come to the hospital for vaccination on a daily basis. The new solar energy, she said, has brought about a transformation, although it does not solve all the challenges of the health centre.

Establishment of the Kaduna Solar for Health Programme.

Idon Rural Hospital still have difficulties in conducting immunization outreach regularly as a result of transportation logistics. The head of the immunization unit said that the health centre of has mobilization during special campaigns. Nigeria, despite its richness in oil, is in an energy crisis as 45 percent of the population (90 million people) lack access to grid electricity. Majority of the 90 million people reside in rural areas like Idon and other similar villages.

Mohammed Shehu, the Chief Press Secretary to Kaduna State governor, stated that in areas suffering from unstable power supply from the national grid, especially in rural areas in Kaduna State, where health care facilities are forced to carry out needed medical procedures using the light of candles, thereby endangering the lives of patients. Additionally, he stated that the establishment of the Kaduna Solar for Health Programme was majorly to provide solution to the challenge. He added that the programme has specific objectives.

Provision of 24-hours sustainable solar energy solutions.

According to Shehu, the objective of the programme is to develop at least one primary health care centre (PHC) in every ward with solar-powered energy to global standards. This will also ensure regular and easy access to quality health care within 2km for all residents of Kaduna. The Kaduna State Government has ensured provision of 24-hour sustainable solar energy solutions to hospitals and health centres in the state. The Kaduna Power Supply Company (KAPSCO) has a vital role in the implementation and sustainability of the Kaduna Solar for Health Programme.

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