The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has restored electricity to Grand Bassa county’s largest hospital, under a project agreement signed between UNDP and the government of Liberia in December 2019.
The project is under the UNDP’s Solar for Health Projects in Liberia which is in partnership with the Ministry of Health to electrify several hospitals and other health facilities across the country using solar energy.
Speaking at the installation ceremony on April 20,2020 in Buchanan, the Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Abraham Jawara, described the availability of electricity at the hospital as timely and critical in the fight against the COVID-19.
Dr. Jawara lauded the UNDP family for the initiative, saying, “with this now, it can allow various 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 in the expenditures of the hospital. This will mitigate the cost of fuel,” Dr. Jawara said.
The management of the hospital received a 24 kilowatt energy system, 150 pieces of panels (275 watts each), 63 pieces of batteries with a capacity of 3000 amps each, and 6 inverters which can be put at 4000 watts each will now reduce difficulties the management has faced over the years.
Dr. Jawara said that with the presence of the solar panels at the hospital, nurses and doctors would no longer have to use phones and flashlights during operations.
The Liberian Government Hospital in the city 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.
It may be recalled that in 2018 the hospital was gutted by fire twice, which damaged the generators.
In the wake of those incidents, the government recently renovated the health facility, but due to limited financial support the hospital 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 its package.
The project aims to find innovative ways to cut down fuel consumption and reduce carbon emissions as Liberia struggles with the issue of climate change.
UNDP is encouraging investment in renewable energy as part of efforts aimed at greening the environment and fighting climate change.
Meanwhile, according to a release, UNDP is also exploring innovative and sustainable options for increased access to health services, more so, that the world is currently fighting the deadly corona virus pandemic which is greatly impacting countries especially with very weak health systems.
However the UNDP solar project has brought some level of relief to the health sector and this couldn’t have come 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.
Interestingly, the solar power being installed at the health facility in Liberia is managed by a Liberian owned company, 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.