940 million people do not have regular access to electricity, and 2.73 billion people do not have regular access to the Internet. These numbers are intimidating and raise questions about inequity, accessibility, and what is being done to decrease these numbers. However, there is another important question to ponder: what does this mean for healthcare systems? Modern health technology is dependent on electricity, so when that is not readily available, complications arise. In sub-Saharan Africa, 50% of health facilities do not have reliable power. Within countries, rural and urban regions also display power inequities.
There have been national and global initiatives to address this crisis. The United Nations’ 2030 SDGs, specifically Goal 7, and its associated agendas, are playing a major role in leading the conversation on the power crisis. However, a coordinated approach to tackling this looming issue has not been successfully implemented multinationally. The World Health Organization has introduced the idea of rapid-deployable energy solutions, like solar photovoltaic systems, to combat unreliable access to electricity. Additionally, renewable energy sources and climate-resistant power structures are very important elements in addressing power inequities. It is often the countries who are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis that are faced with irregular access to power.
Within the United States, there are growing concerns about our aging power infrastructure. Over 75% of the US power grid is 25+ years old with some parts being over a century old. As we enter 2023, resilience measures are being taken, but there is still much to be done. The 2017 ASCE Infrastructure Report Card has graded every aspect of America’s infrastructure as “poor, at risk” or “failing/critical, unfit for purpose”, except for bridges, solid wastes, and ports (received C+ or “mediocre, requires attention). As our infrastructure continues to age, we will see more power outages and grid failures, which does not bode well for the US healthcare system. To support infrastructure reconstruction, you can reach out to your legislators and encourage them to take action on this matter.
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