DRE can revolutionise the public health infrastructure in Bihar

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Patna, 2 March, 2021: Center for Environment & Energy Development (CEED) organised a webinar and unveiled a report ‘DRE for Powering Health Infrastructure in Bihar’ today. The main objective of the webinar was to highlight the potential Decentralised Renewable Energy (DRE) has in the state health sector and further deliberate on the transformative roles it can play in revival of the economy with promoting enterprising activities and local employment generation in post-COVID scenario. Emphasising the need of revamping the health infrastructure across the state, this report brings in a compelling argument for inclusion of DRE across the value chain of the health sector for delivering state’s development goals with improving health indicators in an effective and sustainable manner.

While addressing the webinar, Hon’ble Minister of Health Department, Government of Bihar Shri Mangal Pandey lauded the initiatives of the CEED and said that, “Providing health services to all is a key priority under ‘Saat Nishchay-2’ for the State government and we are committed to increase the use of DRE solutions in strengthening all health centres. We will positively consider the key recommendations of this report for further implementation for ensuring quality health services to the people at the last mile in the state.”

In a first of its kind report prepared by CEED, which meticulously identifies the real energy and health gaps in rural and urban public health centres along with assessing the role of Health-Energy integration to address these lacunae, this study indicates that DRE has a potential of 266 MW in the health sector and it can create 13,173 new job opportunities in the state. Moreover, this study also suggests that DRE has an investment potential of Rs 2470 Crores in the state health sector. In the distressing times of climate change impacts, DRE solutions can significantly contribute in avoiding 11,20,414 tons of CO2 emissions along with bringing several environmental co-benefits.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ashwani Ashok, Head-Renewable Energy at CEED said that, “Bihar is rightly poised for a new paradigm shift in the health sector with giving strategic policy push for more infusion of renewable energy in meeting twin objective of the energy access in health institutions with simultaneously enhancing the access to health services in the challenging time of COVID-19. Solarisation of healthcare is the key to revolutionising health infrastructure and in realisation of universal health coverage. The state government must prepare a roadmap for Health & Energy integration through an enabling framework and adequate financing mechanism for creating a conducive atmosphere to attract investment in the health sector.”

Considering the challenges posed by the COVID-19, the DRE enabled solutions have come at fore like a silver lining for resolving the energy crisis faced by the health centres and they will play an important role in the cold vaccine management in rural areas. Access to power in the health centres is a significant determinant of the efficacy of health service delivery as it is required for conveyances, stockpiling of immunisations, the supply of clean water as well as retention of skilled staff in the centres.

Validating the emphatic role played by solar solutions in a healthcare facility, Dr Ravikant Singh, Founder, Doctors for You said that, “I am pretty convinced that energy-efficient solar equipment can revolutionise the health centre and provide reliable health service. At Vistex Hospital in Masarhi, Patna, we are successfully operating a 50-bed solar powered COVID care centre, where ICU and OPD services, laboratory testing and staff quarantine facilities are powered by the DRE solutions. This is a 100% off-grid facility backed by a 15 kWp solar power plant and doing great without much issues. I urge the state government to take formidable steps for statewide deployment of DRE applications in health centres for a better COVID care management.”

Praising the transformative role of DRE applications in healthcare sector, Dr Sahajanand Prasad Singh, National President, Indian Medical Association (IMA) said that, “In rural hospitals DRE solutions can provide an array of services during general as well as medical emergencies through solar-based cold storage, vaccine refrigerator, baby warmer and portable health care kits, etc. I urge the State government, IMA fraternity and private hospital administrators to increasingly adopt and use the DRE applications in their health centres which will enhance the accessibility of health service and further improve health indicators of the state.”

The panel discussion by notable people from the health and energy sector e.g. Dr Mridul Kumar Sahani, President, Bihar Voluntary Health Association; Dr Chandra Mani Singh, HOD, Community & Health Family Medicine, AIIMS, Patna, Ms Srishti Mahajan, Program Manager, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation etc, concluded with this note that there should be a statewide deployment of DRE solutions in entire value chain of health sector. This webinar was supported by Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation (SSEF) and it was attended by key representatives of government departments, such as Health, Energy, Public Works and Rural Development and agencies like National Health Mission, Bihar State Health Society, Bihar Renewable Energy Development Agency along with health administrators and professionals, DRE developers, industry, think-tanks, academia and civil society organisations across the state.

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