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Solar energy for Health Procurement and Supply Chain

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Solar energy for Health Procurement and Supply Chain

Saving lives. Saving money. Saving the environment.

Cold rooms, controlled temperature storage, eLMIS, diagnostic device functioning require access to electricity. The innovative approach of Solar for Health builds sustainability and resilience in the health system by providing even in the most remote locations a stable, reliable, clean source of electricity.

Impact of Solar for Health

  • Quality health services: stable, clean and reliable energy supply, even in the most remote locations
  • Climate-resilient health system: renewable energy
  • Reduced carbon emissions: substituting fossil-based sources
  • Cheaper energy: 100 per cent return on investment within 3.5 years, on average

Solar energy – innovation to build sustainability in PSM systems

A reliable source of electricity at facility level enables cold chain storage for vaccines at typically +2°C to +8°C. It also enables installing and functioning of air conditioners for controlled temperature storage for medicines, diagnostic devices and laboratory material which requires to be stored below 25-30°C. The Solar for Health initiative enables the application of the WHO Good Storage Practices to the temperature conditions for health products. Furthermore, for countries that are using or are introducing electronic Logistic Management Information Systems (eLMIS) for management of data on health products (ex. inventory with expiry dates, batch traceability, consumption, etc.) and electronic pharmacovigilance reporting systems, the reliability of power supply is important to function effectively. Functioning eLMIS and electronic Health Information Systems (eHIS) are key to develop accurate quantification, to organize distribution at national, regional and district level, to prepare orders of health products for service delivery points.

The solar energy photovoltaic systems generated within the Solar for Health Initiative are conceived and used for the whole functioning of the health facility and/or medical warehouse where they are installed. In addition, the Solar for Health Initiative has a Remote Monitoring System embedded. The ability to monitor the systems performance and usage remotely is a key innovation of the project. It allows for one or more partners to monitor any system in real time. This facilitates taking appropriate and timely action to address any issue from the system. This may involve “remote repair” by providing technical assistance over the phone, or visually through Wi-Fi or mobile technologies.

Zambia’s Medical Stores Limited (MSL) central warehouse is equipped with solar panels and batteries to provide energy for the whole facility.

Country and health facilities covered by Solar for health as of May 2018

Countries Health facilities Installed Capacity kWh
Zimbabwe4054813
Sudan62540
Zambia16750
South Sudan3390
Namibia525
Libya5350
Total5256568

UNDP's support

The Solar for Health initiative has installed solar panels in health facilities in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Libya, Namibia, Sudan and South Sudan. Solar for Health focuses on installing solar energy photovoltaic systems in health clinics located in the poorest and most remote regions.

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In Zimbabwe, the Solar for Health project was launched in 2015 in response to the growing concerns about the availability of regular power supply in the country. Solar systems (40kWs, 10kWs, 7kWs, and 5kWs) have been commissioned and installed at 405 Health facilities across the country.

Solar energy photovoltaic systems can be used also for enabling the functioning of district, regional and central warehouses. As an example, in Zambia, UNDP has been working in close partnership with the Medical Stores Limited (MSL), who manages storage and distribution of health products across the country. With funding received from the Norwegian Emergency Preparedness System (NOREPS) and Global Fund, UNDP has supported MSL to install a solar powered energy system, combined with an energy efficient temperature control system covering 3000 m2 storage space. With the solar panels in place, MSL can ensure the effective running of its operations, even when there is limited power from the national hydro-powered grid.

UNDP’s offer

The Solar for Health initiative builds on experiences to conceive, plan and implement solar energy photovoltaic systems in six countries, to answer needs arising from unreliable or unavailable electricity to health system facilities.

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The approach is centred on building ownership at the national level, providing tools and systems to monitor remotely the functioning and the generation of solar energy in all equipped facilities. Ownership, effective management, and maintenance are critical to ensure the sustainability of investments in Solar for Health.

UNDP has developed standardized Solar for Health equipment list with specifications and established first health sector Long-Term Agreements (LTAs) for specific solar energy photovoltaic systems’ equipment. LTAs have been established for small photovoltaic (PV) kits for basic health facilities’ needs up to more complex PV plants (single-phase to three-phase) for hospitals, warehouses, etc. The LTAs include provisions for customised solutions to match specific load requirements. The current LTA include suppliers based in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The specifications for solar energy photovoltaic systems equipment will be regularly reviewed based on needs, cost, and new technology.