The World Health Organisation (WHO) has delivered solar panels to a health facility in Borno State in Nigeria to ensure that essential health services are not interrupted by power supply.
WHO country representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, commissioned the solar panels at the Polio Laboratory.
The project (48 solar panels of 330 watts each, 21KVA inverters and 24 tabular batteries) is intended to provide uninterrupted power supply for the facility for quick testing of acute Ffaccid Paralysis (AFP) samples collected from the field. The intervention became necessary due to the insurgency attack on infrastructure in Borno in January 2021 which led to a power outage, affecting operations at the accredited Polio Laboratory at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.
The choice of the solar panels to power the facility reinforces the commitment to develop climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26), in response to growing evidence of the impact of climate change on people’s health. Meanwhile, Nigeria and 49 other countries at COP26 committed to develop climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems.
Mulombo said the installation of the solar panels is part of the best practices to improve health services to avoid disruption to laboratory activities.
“WHO will provide additional support to ensure the capacity of the polio laboratory in strengthening the fight against poliovirus in Nigeria. Also, WHO will continue to support the state technically and ensure essential health services are adequately provided,” he added.
Professor Ibrahim Kidda (Head of Department, Immunology Department, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital): “WHO’s intervention in the state and the Polio laboratory specifically, cannot be overemphasised.
“However, the predicament we found ourselves [in] during the ten months of power outage had a negative impact on effectively carrying out our mandate. I believe this project would play an enormous role in ensuring continuity of the laboratory activities and save Nigeria and Africa the embarrassment it might cause to Global Polio Eradication Efforts.”
Nigeria needs to continue the AFP surveillance and sample collection to sustain the gains against wild poliovirus. Also, there is a need to keep up testing to support the fight against the circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus 2 (cVDPV2) reported in some states.