Through the lens of SDG-5, this visualization examines the significance of dependable energy in healthcare facilities and its role in reproductive care in sub-Saharan Africa. It also explores the correlation between maternal mortality rates and a lack of electricity in healthcare facilities in that region.
Without dependable energy in healthcare facilities, women experience a range of complications including but not limited to; giving birth in the dark without access to facilities with electricity and lifesaving devices requiring energy.
Initiatives that focus on investing in dependable energy in this area will have a direct impact on saving women's lives.
The chart below visualizes the discrepancy between Maternal Mortality in sub-Saharan Africa and the world. 201,000 women in that region died from complications relating to giving birth in 2015.
The map below looks at 11 Sub-Saharan countries (Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia) and how their health facilities are powered, either by generator only, central, solar, another supply, or no electricity at all.
In 10 out of the 11 countries examined, there is still a portion of healthcare facilities that are operating without electricity.
This chart compares the percentage of healthcare facilities without electricity and the percentage of maternal deaths per women in childbearing years in a specific country. As the percentage of healthcare facilities without electricity peaks, so does an increase in deaths. A pattern is observable.
In Liberia, under a partnership between six UN agencies working in
collaboration with the Liberian Government,
UN Women have installed solar lighting systems in 26 health centres
and in five maternal waiting rooms in rural Liberia
to improve maternal and child healthcare services.
According to a WHO study published in August 2013, 1 in 4 health facilities in 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa has no access to electricity and most facilities lack a reliable supply. Facilities have trouble keeping back-up power sources such as diesel generators due to high fuel costs and unreliable fuel delivery. The study found that fewer than 30% of the generators were actually operational.
Sub-Saharan Africa has immense potential for renewable energy initiatives. Luckily, the cost of unitily-scale solar has dropped by over 90% since 2009. However, to meet the demand for energy in healthcare facilities, broader mobilization of institutions and resources are required to have a meaningful impact.
Financial investment for the electrification of health centers in sub-Saharan Africa will mean life saving vaccines and maternal care for women. In addition to the electrification of the facility itself, the UN lists a number of devices essential in reproductive healthcare requiring electricity. See a few of the devices needed below and the full list here.
ADAIR-ROHANI, H., ZUKOR, K., BONJOUR, S., WILBURN, S., KUESEL, A. C., HEBERT, R. AND FLETCHER, E. R. Limited electricity access in health facilities of sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review of data on electricity access, sources, and reliability Available Here
Power Technology. "Can renewables meet their potential in Africa?" (2018, September) Available Here
The Lancet. "Table: Number of public hospitals and access quotients with UI across 48 sub-Saharan African countries and islands, including Zanzibar for 2015" Available Here
UNICEF Data. "Maternal Mortality." (2017, February) Available Here
United Nations Population Fund."End Maternal Death" Available Here
UN Women."Maternal health gets a new boost in Liberia" (2017, July) Available Here
World Health Organization. "Harnessing Africa’s untapped solar energy potential for health" (2014) Available Here