Rural Electrification: Drivers and Outcomes in Health Care Facilities in Low Income Countries
Communities in rural areas in low-income countries are dispersed and isolated, and have lower rates of electrification than urban areas. There, health facilities face challenges due to the lack of access to electricity or its unreliable supply. These problems mean that vaccines can lose their potency when continuous refrigeration is unavailable, nighttime birth deliveries cannot be attended due to the lack of lighting, and equipment can be damaged, all limiting the services that can be provided in the facility. Rural electrification projects have been encouraged and implemented with the justification that on-site electricity generation will increase access and quality to healthcare services.
The analysis of case studies of rural electrification projects to reduce energy poverty in health facilities indicates that electricity and healthcare are not in a direct-causal relation. The research concludes that, although the main driver for the organisations, increase access to healthcare will not strictly result from increase number of electrified facilities; hence, factors in the process of care provision must be taken into account. A sustainability assessment of the projects showed that financial, institutional and environmental factors are given less importance than socio-technical aspects, compromising future project’s performance. The research suggests the development tools to measure and monitor the impacts of health-infrastructure on healthcare under a sustainability framework.
Keywords: Rural Electrification, Rural healthcare, Low-income countries