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Renewable electricity improves health services

The Gbari Health Center is located on the border with Sudan, far from electricity grids. Through the cooperation with GBE, the district can now supply some of its remotest health centers with electricity. This is not only important for the vaccination campaign against COVID-19, but also for saving the nurses many unnecessary kilometers.

Palma Limio works as a nursing assistant at Gbari Health Center in Moyo district in Northern Uganda. On average, about 20 patients present at the outpatient clinic daily, seeking health services for different conditions – malaria and abdominal pain being the most common ones. However, due to its extremely remote location near the border of Sudan, the center has been plagued with a range of challenges, according to Palma. Lacking access to the electricity grid, patients have been shunning the services there.

With the support of Green People’s Energy (GBE) ‘Small Project Fund‘, the district local government was able to improve the health service delivery at Gbari and two other rural Health Centers in the district. Solar energy systems have been installed at the selected health centers, and the installation of vaccine refrigerators will follow shortly.

At the recent launch event, the project was embraced enthusiastically by the district’s officials. “The vaccination coverage in Moyo district is far below the national target and puts our children at risk. This project will aid to bridge that gap and help improve the inadequacy” explained Drama Patrick, the District Energy Focal Person of Moyo, in his opening speech.

Especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, electrified health centers are of great importance, emphasized David Vuchiri, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Moyo district “The major gap presently is the inadequacy in the refrigeration storage which exposes the vaccines to a big risk of spoiling due to lack of proper storage. Hence the need to improve the issue of constant power supply. Embracing decentralized renewable energy will help us manage the vaccine coverage in especially hard to reach areas within the district”.

With the health facilities powered, Palma and her colleagues can now provide better services to their patients. “With solar energy in place, our health workers will not have to travel over 5 kilometers to charge their phones and torches; or ask patients to bring candles when they come for health services in the evening.” said David Mondo, the Resident District Commissioner in his opening speech at the ceremony. “It is because of the proposal that we wrote as a district that has enabled us to attain this milestone. We therefore thank GIZ’s Green People’s Energy (GBE) initiative and the district planning unit for the effort and support” he added.

Following the launch event that was covered by local news media, a radio talk show took place to sensitize and educate the local community about the importance of the project, the benefits of utilizing solar power, the improved services now available at the health centers, and to outline plans for additional upgrades to the centers in the future.