24 of April 2018

Energy and health: the critical link


On April 6th, the International Health Day was celebrated worldwide; it was a good opportunity to stop and think about all the interlinkages between energy and health.

Around 1 billion people worldwide are served by health centres and hospitals which lack access to electricity. Lack of access to reliable energy in health care facilities is a serious obstacle impeding the delivery of essential health services, particularly in remote rural areas [1]. Decentralized renewable energy solutions can reduce health hazards around the home and power critical health facilities.

Access to energy is a critical enabler for delivery of health services, here are some of the reasons:

  • Lighting including emergency night-time care and lighting for major health-care priorities such as improving maternal and child health and reducing mortality;
  • Refrigeration for medicines, blood and vaccines;
  • Sterilization facilities - patients in low-resource areas often suffer from surgical-site infections;
  • Electricity for medical devices such as scanners, oxygen machines, etc.;
  • Human capital retention - facilities that have access to electricity not only offer quality health services but also may be better positioned to attract and retain skilled health workers, especially in rural areas [1];
  • Mobile and tele-health applications - electricity also enables mobile and tele-health applications and facilitates public health education and information.

But the energy impact on health is broader than health services, ensuring access to clean energy is also important because:

  • Modern energy access reduces the use of traditional fossil-fuels such as firewood, kerosene and diesel, therefore reduces the related fires and accidents, the indoor air pollution and improves health;
  • Women and children also spend much of their time harvesting heavy energy resources and thus correspondingly consume their physical energy, producing musculoskeletal disorders. In less secure environments, women and children are at risk of injury and violence during fuel gathering;
  • Access to energy impact on food and water security - affordable and reliable energy access also makes possible, more efficient and cost-effective water pumping for consumption and crop irrigation. 

These and many other impacts demonstrate the important and inextricable linkages between sustainable energy access (SDG 7) and good health and well-being (SDG 3) and the need to promote efforts to improve the lives of the most vulnerable, especially women and children.

When we power healthcare, we can empower brighter, healthier and more sustainable communities.

To learn more about energy and health, check these factsheets from Power for All, partner of ALER:


[1] World Health Organization (2014) Access to modern energy services for health facilities in resource-constrained settings: a review of status, significance, challenges and measurement.


Source © Power for All and Oorja