Minister of Health and Population Atupele Muluzi has expressed the need for the country to establish a strategic plan that would make best use of available energy technologies and distribution to ensure sustainable power in the health sector.
Muluzi was speaking on Tuesday in Lilongwe during a National Consultation meeting on Draft Power for Health Master Plan and Energy assessments of central health facilities .
He said his ministry has had discussions with a number of development partners about how to improve the power situation across the health sector.
“As our healthcare services develop, we need to ensure that we can provide reliable and sustainable power to all healthcare facilities. Power is vital for many diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitation services,” he said.
Muluzi said despite the support the ministry has received with solutions such as solar system, lack of a strategic management system to ensure the equipment is installed, operated and maintained effectively remains a challenge.
“We now need to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to deliver reliable and sustainable power for health,” he stressed.
He added: “This will ensure we can better coordinate all stakeholders, prioritise resources and manage expertise, equipment and funds to better support power generation and distribution across all our health facilities within our fiscal means.”
With the Sustainable Power for Health Master Plan, the minister said the country can better serve lives with a more effective healthcare sector that has sufficient power to deliver effective healthcare services.
UNDP’s Resident Representative, Claire Medina said energy access in the health sector plays a pivotal role in the economy of the country because facilities that depend on back-up energy such as generators are expensive.
She said solar energy can save lives and cut costs of running generators. However, she said maintenance of the equipment needs to be taken into consideration before going further with implementation of solar energy in all health facilities in the country.
Medina said UNDP and UNICEF conducted a needs assessment in 40 health centres to find out the reliable source of power in the health facilities.
“Renewable energy in our health care will require robust support and joint effort to be sustainable and it is important that there should be an understanding of the installation process and maintenance,” she said.