Electricity is an increasingly essential commodity in healthcare facilities in the developing world. Improvements in the distribution of vaccines, and the global push to deliver antiretroviral drugs and services to HIV-positive patients worldwide, have introduced new demands for electricity in sites with little or no access to reliable power. Over the years, significant effort and funds have been dedicated to providing energy services to health facilities—with a particular focus on expanding the vaccination chain. Unfortunately, many of these efforts have proven not to be sustainable over the long term.
Although it is nearly always preferable for a health facility to purchase power from an independent party (e.g., a utility), such an option is not always economically or technically viable. For instance, many developing country health facilities are connected to a national grid, which may provide intermittent and poor-quality power. Improving the quality of that power often requires significant institutional reforms and capital expenditures, which are long-term endeavors and are outside the manageable interest of the health sector support program. Many other health facilities have no access to grid power or have intermittent, poor-quality power from a local minigrid.
Designed by USAID’s Energy Team, PoweringHealth.org is a Web site for those seeking solutions to provide continuous, high-quality energy to health facilities in developing countries. The site offers energy audit spreadsheets that organizations can download to perform their own assessments, online health clinic power system design software, and a slew of resources to help groups figure out the best approach to implementing power systems to meet their needs.