Story by Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor
GOVERNMENT has instituted a raft of measures to safeguard its health institutions and facilities against power outages being experienced in the region through the use of alternative and complementary sources of power.
At a time the Southern African region is reeling under power outages, it has emerged that the government, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care has been proactive in putting in place measures to ensure uninterrupted power supplies in its hospitals and clinics.
A visit to one of the biggest referral hospitals in the country, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, revealed the existence of 12 units of 550kv backup power generators ready to sustain the entire hospital’s power needs in case of load shedding.
“We have a strong electricity backup here at Parirenyatwa hospital in case of any emergency. Our generators are 500kva in terms of output and they are automated and kick in instantly in case of any power outages. These generators are divided into 12 units and between them, they cover the entire hospital including the theatres and the blood bank,” said Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals Electrician, Mr Joab Mbudzi.
Despite that all central hospitals including Parirenyatwa have dedicated and uninterrupted electricity power lines, authorities at the health facility have opted for a proactive approach, as explained by the Public Relations Officer – Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Mr Linos Dhire.
“We want to thank ZESA for sparing us from the load shedding. Since the pronouncement of the load shedding, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals has not experienced any power outages and in the event that there is an electrical fault or an outage of power the hospital has got sufficient backup systems to cover up for that,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care Acting Chief Director Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Rugare Kangwende, over 1000 health institutions countrywide now have backup power in place.
“In our quest to offer seamless and uninterrupted services, in 2018 the Ministry embarked on an impressive “Solar for Health” project aimed at installing solar power at all health facilities across the country. Since 2018 to date, the project has seen the installation of the solar power system at 1 044 health facilities. Work is still ongoing to have all the remaining facilities installed with the solar power system.
Additionally, there are efforts to double the solar power output capacity at most health facilities currently ranging from 5 kilowatts to 40 kilowatts from Clinic to Provincial Hospital level. The solar system, depending on the size of the health facility and power output has been designed to power critical areas such as the Pharmacy (Covering Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) refrigerators for vaccines), Laboratory, Maternity Ward (no woman should give birth in darkness), Waiting Mothers Shelter (in places where the facility was established), Theatre, Mortuary and Borehole (to ensure continuous water supply. We also have backup generators at some primary health care facilities mindful of the fact that some areas such as Chimanimani, Chipinge, Nyanga and Vumba experience overcast weather patterns and this may pose challenges in the charging of the solar power system batteries,” she explained.
The Solar for health project which started in 2018 has also ensured the availability of water through solar-powered boreholes at health facilities.