The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Liberia has restored electricity at Grand Bassa’s largest hospital, after installing solar panels at the Government health facility.
The project comes in the wake of an agreement signed between UNDP under its Solar for Health Project and the Ministry of Health in December 2019 to electrify several hospitals and other health facilities across the country using solar energy.
According to the medical director of the hospital, Dr. Abraham Jawara, the electricity will now allow departments such as the maternity ward, operating theater, and emergency room to function without hindrance.
“As you may know, the installation of the solar panel is going to have a significant reduction into the expenditures of the hospital. This will mitigate the cost of fuel,” Dr. Jawara said.
The 24 kilowatt health facility received 150 pieces of panels (275 watts each), 63 pieces of batteries with a capacity of 3000amps each, and 6 inverters at 4000 watts each.
With the presence of the solar panels at the hospital, Jawara emphasized that nurses and doctors would no longer have to use phones and flashlights during operations.
The Liberian Government Hospital caters to patients from River Cess and Sinoe Counties, but due to the lack of stable electricity, major operations were being referred to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Monrovia.
Jawara says despite the installation of the solar panels, the hospital will still maintain its generator in case of emergencies.
“Now that we have electricity, we are going to do our best to save lives. We will be able to see our patients at all times,” he added.
The Liberia Government Hospital was gutted by fire twice in 2018, which damaged the hospital’s generators.
The government recently renovated the health facility, but limited financial support has meant that it has not been able to fuel its generators.
The UNDP Liberia Solar for Health Project targets 12 health facilities in seven Counties, each with a different capacity level. Training of relevant staff also forms part of the package.
The aim is to help the government find innovative ways of cutting down on fuel consumption and reducing carbon emissions, as Liberia struggles with climate change issues.
UNDP is encouraging investment in renewable energy as part of efforts aimed at greening the environment and fighting climate change.
The agency is also exploring innovative and sustainable options for increasing access to health services, more so, that the world is currently fighting the deadly corona virus pandemic (COVID-19) which is greatly impacting countries especially with very weak health systems.
This UNDP solar project comes at this critical time, when UNDP will both promote and implement a response to COVID-19 that supports countries to face the challenges beyond the health sector, to both limit the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate the potentially devastating impact it may have on vulnerable populations and economies.
The solar power being installed at these health facilities in Liberia, is being managed by a Liberian owned company called Eco-Power.
Its General Manager Vickson Korlewala describes the system as progressive and highly sophisticated and if managed well, can last more than 20 years. As part of the arrangement, ECO-Power will maintain the system for one-year.