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ISA and HIEx Hold Roundtable Discussion on Building Resilient Healthcare Systems through Solar

The discussions showcased scalable business models in solar for healthcare across different ISA member countries and how these can be leveraged to build resilient health infrastructure and achieve the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 3.

May 29, 2023. By Anurima Mondal

On the sidelines of the World Health Assembly 2023, International Solar Alliance (ISA) with Health Innovation & Investment Exchange (HIEx), with support of the European Union, as knowledge partner, held a high-level roundtable discussion on building resilient healthcare systems through solar.

Michel Sidibe, Chair, HIEX Board & Special Envoy - African Medicines Agency, Former Minister of Health & Social Affairs, Mali, and Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General, ISA inaugurated the session on ‘Role of Solar in Building Resilient Health and SDGs’. Health, energy, and power ministers from Egypt, Guinea, Maldives, Côte d'Ivoire, Comoros, Ethiopia, and Benin attended the programme.

The event highlighted scalable business models and lessons, underlined best practices in adopting solar for health and discussed nuances of implementation and opportunities.

In his inaugural address, Michel Sidibe, Chair, HIEX Board & Special Envoy - African Medicines Agency, Former Minister of Health & Social Affairs, Mali, noted, "The solarisation of healthcare bridges the gaps in electricity supply and availability and builds climate resilience in a continent prone to climate change. Solar energy is the ultimate solution, enabling us to bridge these gaps, combat air pollution, reduce carbon emissions, and pave the way for a brighter, healthier future for all."

The Roundtable deliberations spotlighted ISA CARES, an exclusive initiative dedicated to solarising primary healthcare centres. Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, ISA, said, “By adopting a blended financing model, we are implementing several demonstration projects in LDCs and SIDS member countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guyana, Niger, Comoros, Mauritius, Uganda, and Fiji. These projects support the electrification of public healthcare services, significantly benefiting rural and marginalised communities. Moreover, these facilities also create new employment opportunities locally and contribute to the growth of allied industries, including agriculture and education.”
Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, Minister of Higher Education & Scientific Research, Egypt, in his intervention, said, "Solar energy, abundantly available and free of cost, is a remarkable resource that transcends ownership and remains immune to the perils of importation and price fluctuations. Egypt's ambitious construction of a 1.6-gigawatt solar facility at Aswan is a shining example of harnessing this potential."

Representatives from African countries also highlighted the need of a diverse and balanced energy mix. Ahmed Adil, representing the Maldivian Health Ministry, spoke of the abundance of sunlight for the country throughout the year and, thus, the manifold opportunities it offers.

On a mission to establish 25,000 solar-powered health centres by 2026, Magsaysay Award winner Harish Hande, Co-founder of SELCO, said, "Basis a transformative collaboration with the IKEA Foundation, Selco’s ambitious initiative aims to create a template of success stories across diverse Indian topographies, ultimately enabling global replication. With its vast potential, India can serve as the research and development lab for the world in this endeavour. The necessary financial resources are available; we need the unwavering will to make it happen."

Talking about innovative interventions such as the SolarX Startup Challenge and the Solar Finance Facility, Joshua Wycliffe, COO, ISA, remarked, "These initiatives serve as catalysts for change, fostering entrepreneurship, innovation, and access to finance in the solar energy sector. By encouraging collaboration and providing platforms for global participation, the ISA is propelling us towards a brighter and more sustainable future. Together, we can seize the immense potential of solar energy and create a world where clean and affordable power is accessible to all."

On the sidelines, a Health Innovation Marketplace was set up that showcased more than 25 cutting-edge innovations with the potential for scaling and creating impact for SDG3, particularly in resource-limited settings. The innovations were selected through a wide sourcing approach utilising an open call for solutions and the HIEx partnerships networks. All the innovations were selected based on a solid rights base, potential for impact, readiness for scaling, and sustainability, with exclusive exhibits showcasing ‘Solar for Health’ and select innovators from WINFund, a non-profit fund investing in African women entrepreneurs improving access to healthcare.
The event deliberations helped match needs, solutions, and investments while facilitating partnerships between countries, innovators, and investors. The event is a stepping stone for partnerships and collaborations to help drive progress towards a sustainable and equitable future for all, especially in building universal resilient healthcare.  
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