Press Release: Indian Leaders Call for Improvement in Rural Healthcare via Solarization of Clinics
On April 30, 2020, nearly 20 leaders from think tanks, research groups, renewable energy companies, sustainable development organizations, industry associations, and health care services have come together to publish an open letter calling for action, making the case for solarizing all unelectrified sub-centres in rural India, clearly outlining steps needed to get us to that goal.
The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has highlighted several existing systemic gaps in services, especially to the rural poor. Inadequate healthcare infrastructure is one of them. Over 39,000 sub-centres (the first point of contact between primary health care system and the community) serving 230 million people in rural India lack electricity. This severely impacts their capacity to offer optimal health care to patients. Decentralized renewable energy (DRE) can play a significant role in solving this problem quickly and affordably, for less than INR 30 per person in initial capital expenditure.
The letter outlines 4 key interventions that the government can undertake in order to help alleviate the situation:
- Expanding the programme to solarize clinics, drawing from the example of Chhattisgarh state which has successfully done this;
- Allocating dedicated funding towards this initiative, which would amount to just 0.6% of the current 2020-21 energy and healthcare budget;
- Ensuring long-term operations and sustainability by working through existing structures; and
- Promoting innovation in order to develop more financially viable and energy-efficient medical equipment.
The letter has been sent to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the National Centre for Disease Control, the National Health Systems Resource Centre, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the Ministry of Power, and Niti Aayog. In addition, the letter is being sent to media houses, international development banks, private foundations and other donors, as well as global renewable energy and healthcare agencies. Read and download the full text of the letter.
Photo courtesy of Christopher Herwig.