Alopati Majarchar PHC (In Barpeta District of Assam) was designed to cater to a population of roughly 25,000 people. But in the absence of other health facilities in the area, it serves a population of nearly 100,000—well over its capacity. The PHC also provides maternal and newborn care services, conducting upto 60-70 deliveries a month. This is significantly higher than the recommended IPHS guidelines of 20-25 deliveries per month for a PHC, all this while being unelectrified and unconnected to the grid. In the absence of electricity, the PHC was dependent on small solar powered lights and a diesel generator to meet their critical power needs.
The PHC was provided with two DRE systems of 3.96 kWp each and energy efficient equipment including a baby warmer, phototherapy, suction machine and spot lights. Electrical loads such as lights and fans were replaced with efficient appliances. The system includes 2 inverters so in the event that one fails, the other is always available to support critical loads. In a remote region with no other source of power, this is important to factor in.
The total energy system cost is INR 925,000 ($12,460). Given the dire need in the region, the capital cost for this intervention was grant funded. For operations and maintenance, based on the learnings from other facilities, the Health center has been advised to enter into an agreement with the energy enterprise where untied funds of the RKS (Health center management committee) will be used to cover the 1-2% annual maintenance cost.
Doctors and nurses were forced to conduct deliveries in extremely stressful conditions. Usage of equipment such as baby warmer and cold chain solutions for vaccine storage were often affected by the shortage of fuel. High operating costs of running the centre using diesel generators, where the expenditure was INR. 3000 to INR. 3500 ($40 - $47) per month. During the rainy seasons, the center often spent nearly INR. 1500 to INR. 1800 ($20- $25) more on travelling to the nearest petrol station to procure the fuel because of limited supply. Lack of proper access to electricity and infrastructure and the inability to use critical appliances affected the motivation and well- being of staff members.
The center was identified for energy-health interventions by Doctors For You (DFY), a pan India humanitarian organization, that works in disaster and conflict hit areas on providing medical care and emergency medical aid to the vulnerable communities during crisis and non- crisis situations. The DRE solution for this PHC was implemented in February 2020.
Savings on diesel fuel of more than INR. 3000 ($40) per month.
Safer deliveries and better conditions for doctors and nurses to treat patients.
Timely immunization for children and pregnant women using a well- functioning cold chain system.
Improved working conditions and increased convenience for staff in the health facilities.