By Beyza Binnur Donmez
ISTANBUL (AA) - Nearly one billion people worldwide are served by healthcare facilities that lack a reliable electricity supply, according to a report published on Saturday.
The number is close to the entire populations of the US, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Germany combined, said the joint report from the World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank, International Renewable Energy Agency, and Sustainable Energy for All.
Access to electricity is critical for providing quality healthcare or offering lifesaving immunization, but one in eight of the world’s population lack access to that health coverage, it said. Without reliable electricity in all healthcare facilities, universal health coverage cannot be reached, it explained.
The report, called Energizing Health: Accelerating Electricity Access in Health-Care Facilities, which presents the latest data on the electrification of healthcare facilities in low- and middle-income countries, showed that in South Asia and sub-Saharan African countries, more than one in 10 healthcare facilities lack any electricity access, while power is unreliable for a full half of facilities in sub-Saharan Africa.
"Electricity access in healthcare facilities can make the difference between life and death," said Dr. Maria Neira, assistant director-general for Healthier Populations at the WHO.
"Investing in reliable, clean and sustainable energy for healthcare facilities is not only crucial to pandemic preparedness, it’s also much needed to achieve universal health coverage, as well as increasing climate resilience and adaptation," she added.
The report underlined that electrification of healthcare facilities must be considered an utmost development priority requiring greater support and investments from governments, development partners, and financing and development organizations.
Almost two-thirds (64%) of healthcare facilities in low and middle-income countries require some form of urgent intervention – for instance, either a new electricity connection or a backup power system – and some $4.9 billion is urgently needed to bring them to a minimal standard of electrification, according to a World Bank needs analysis included in the report.