The importance of energy in improving maternal and child health in Africa
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Annual Meetings 2014 commenced in Kigali on May 19. A ministerial visit to healthcare centres in a rural area was organised to coincide with this event. The visit highlighted the importance of rural electrification through the use of renewable energy sources. Electrification of remote healthcare centres is particularly important in efforts to improve maternal and child health across Africa. The link between energy and maternal and child health is the core theme of the first two years of “Sustainable Energy for All” (SE4ALL) Decade (2014-2024), a decade launched in Africa at the AfDB’s Annual Meetings.
Solar panels have now been installed on the roof of a healthcare centre in Kigogo, a rural village nestling in the high mountains of Gicumbi, a district located some 50 kilometres from Kigali, in the north of Rwanda. In the past, pregnant women used to have to travel long distances to receive appropriate medical care. Prior to electrification, the healthcare centre was not able to operate at night due to a lack of electricity.
“In the past, the situation was very tricky. The majority of pregnant women from the region preferred to be referred to a central hospital for fear of possible complications if they went into labour at night,” explains Dancilla Mukanambaje, a mother of five who lives near the Kigogo healthcare centre.