World Research Institute (WRI) India has found that decentralised solar energy (DRE) facilities have greatly benefitted government hospitals in the rural areas of Meghalaya.
WRI on October 26 released a report titled “A Spoonful of Solar to Help the Medicine Go Down: Exploring synergies between healthcare and energy”.
The report highlighted the critical role DRE plays in meeting the energy needs in rural and peri-urban health facilities in India.
The report analyses 22 DRE interventions implemented in health facilities across six states: Meghalaya, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, and Odisha.
The report is based on extensive literature review, in-person interviews and field visits to the health facilities.
It also stated that remote healthcare facilities, which are either unelectrified or function with unreliable grid electricity, could access DRE to improve their service delivery and support more patients.
In Meghalaya, WRI visited the 100-bed Williamnagar Civil Hospital, 30-bed Patharkhmah Community Health Centre, two-bed Narang Health Sub-Center at Umling and the 10-bed Byrnihat Primary Health Centre.
Williamnagar Civil Hospital was connected with rooftop solar energy of 38.7 kW (3 systems) with lead-acid battery backup (with grid charging). Patharkhmah CHC was installed with 26.4 kW (2 systems) solar energy, Narang Health Sub-Center with 1.98 kW solar power and Byrnihat PHC with 4.95 kW solar power.
The report informed that SELCO Foundation has been integrating energy efficiency within its projects in Meghalaya especially in the programme design phase, where the overall technology procurement considers supply, installation, commissioning, and maintenance of the off-grid energy system, as well as energy efficient medical equipment and fans LED tube lights, and bulbs. Initially, the foundation partnered with the Health Department, Meghalaya, to power 100 sub-centers in the State.
“Along with powering the health facilities through solar PV, many of the health facilities were also provided with energy-efficient equipment like baby warmers, spotlights, suction apparatus, and vaccine refrigerators,” the report added.
It also said that as part of the Meghalaya government’s health systems strengthening program, the SELCO Foundation is partnering with the government toward incorporating climate-resilient infrastructure and sustainable building design, apart from integrating solar energy and energy-efficient appliances.
“With these efforts, about 40 per cent of public health facilities in the State of Meghalaya have been sustainably upgraded by incorporating energy efficient equipment, solar energy, and in some cases passive built environment methodologies for energy efficiency,” the report added.
It also said that simple awareness-building initiatives observed in solarised health facilities across Meghalaya included descriptive posters in the inverter and battery room. These contain information on best practices to maintain inverters, batteries, and solar panels, as well as contact information of technology providers and implementing agencies for troubleshooting.
“In addition, solar energy system complaint registration was included as part of a customer relationship management system that is managed by the NHM. This allowed for complaints outside of routine maintenance to be registered with the technology provider through this platform,” the report said.