Power supply and healthcare, two inseparable services. As we all know, the power supply in Nigeria is not the best. it generally goes from fair or good during the raining season to bad during the dry. Many residential houses have to be okay with only a few hours of power every day.
This power issue does not affect residential addresses only. Government buildings and businesses also have to deal with fluctuating power supply. One essential service that also has to deal with a poor power supply is our healthcare services.
Why do health care services need power?
The thought of running a healthcare center without power is laughable. This is because everything in there requires power. Apart from the simple need for surgeons to see where their knife is pointing to. Or for nurses making sure they are targeting the right vein with their needles. And several other processes that need proper lighting.
Every single piece of equipment in a hospital needs some form of power supply. Some may run on batteries (which still need electricity to charge), many run on electric power. And some of these machines are keeping some patients alive.
How irregular power supply affects healthcare services in Nigeria
The impact of poor power supply on our healthcare services has been well documented. There have been several reports of Nigerian doctors working under torchlights.
These are the more “acceptable” impacts of poor power supply on our health care system. It becomes even more difficult to bear when patients start dying. Because the power went off while they were on life support machines. Or there was no power when a surgery needed to happen immediately.
These are deaths that needn’t have happened, deaths that could have been avoided. And many times, the hospitals are not to blame for these deaths. An interview was given by the administrator in one of the teaching hospitals in the country. He revealed that the hospital spends NGN16Million every month on fuel for its generators and NGN3Million to pay Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) bills.
Imagine how much that amounts to every year, only for powering the hospital. And it is possible other bigger hospitals are paying way more than that. It is a race that cannot be won. Power from the government is still the solution. Generators should only work as backups. This is how it works in other countries.
Power, power, where art thou?
As far as our healthcare system goes, constant power supply is its Achilles heel. It is the pressure point for many of the issues plaguing the system. fixing it is the first step in that journey to the healthcare system that we have been hoping to have in this country for years.