TR12: Electrification of health clinics in rural areas

This report provides an overview of the status of, and challenges facing, the electrification of health clinics in rural areas in the developing world. In addition, it considers the opportunities provided by telemedicine and the barriers to this, along with some examples of innovation and work in this field. The content of this report has been drawn from a review of the literature and will be used as a starting point for Smart Villages workshop discussions with experts in the field.

The focus of this report is primarily on the electrification of health facilities specifically. However, the complementary benefits of community-wide electrification are considered in the section of the report dealing with the challenges of electrification, and the requirements for thermal energy in health clinics (for example, for sterilisation, cooking, water and space heating, etc.) are briefly reviewed.

The report finds that the benefits of health facility energy provision are multi-fold and that off-grid renewable systems in remote, resource-poor settings can enable ‘basic electricity for lifesaving procedures that might not otherwise be feasible’ (WHO, no date). In addition, it finds that technology and telemedicine enabled by electricity provision and connectivity can further enhance the quality of care in remote settings. Yet neither of these areas is without its challenges.

The report is divided into two main chapters. The first considers the energy requirements of
rural health clinics, the benefits of electrification, and the challenges as well as opportunities (for example, clinics as mini-grid anchors). The second focuses on innovation in energy-enabled
technologies and telemedicine, and the barriers to such innovation. The report ends with some
concluding remarks.

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