Electrification and rural health care

Powering Health Care

Energy Access, Coping Costs, and Patient Outcomes in Uganda Health Clinics

Although electricity is critical for high-quality health care—providing fundamental services like lighting, refrigeration, and power for appliances from microscopes to autoclaves— tens of thousands of health facilities globally lack access to reliable electricity or, in some cases, any electricity at all. Only a handful of studies analyze electricity access in clinics or other topics at the intersection of energy and health care, so it’s hard to understand the scope or implications of the problem.

This project aims to provide a deeper understanding of the energy access challenge in clinics in Uganda, and the relationships between access, resources, and patient care. It undertakes a comprehensive survey of 935 public health clinics throughout Uganda, including a set of questions about electricity infrastructure, backup power, predictability and duration of outages, coping behaviors, and costs that arise from voltage surges. We’re interested in the reliability, affordability and safety of energy in these facilities, as well as the quality of infrastructure, what services are available, and how energy access and outages affect staff and patient behavior. To our knowledge, this is the most comprehensive survey yet conducted on the costs and behavioral effects of energy access at health facilities in any setting.

The study – conducted in partnership with the Duke Global Health Institute, the Duke Division of Global Neurosurgery and Neurology, the Uganda Ministry of Health, Makerere University, and the Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala – aims to provide a deeper understanding of the energy access challenge and potential solutions in health clinics in Uganda, and provides a model for similar work in other countries.

Duke Staff/Faculty: Robert Fetter, Tony Fuller, Michael Haglund, Marc Jeuland, Jonathan Phillips

Funder: Duke Energy Initiative Seed Grant, Duke Global Neurosurgery and Neurology, King Baudouin Foundation

Funding