Keeping the lights on for you, so we can keep on looking after your health | Western Cape Government


Keeping the lights on for you, so we can keep on looking after your health

23 April 2023

April marked a significant milestone for the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness as it commenced with its plans to safeguard healthcare facilities against continuous and increasingly severe electricity blackouts.

Over the next 12 months (until March 2024) the Department plans to install hybrid inverters in every rural primary health care (PHC) facility over two phases and solar panels at 15 hospitals.

“These urgent interventions are key components of the Department’s strategy to incorporate renewable energy into healthcare facilities ensuring we can provide a service to our clients, regardless of the severity of blackouts” said Dr Keith Cloete, Head of Department.

Minister Nomafrench Mbombo added: "Over the past year, blackouts have intensified significantly. We have had only 1 day without blackouts this year. It is a direct threat to the delivery of health care services in the Western Cape. This is why we are pushing ahead with these initiatives as we cannot sit back and wait for this issue to be resolved. In my capacity as Minister, I look forward to the rollout of these interventions and the strides the department will make in protecting our patients and communities from the impacts of rolling blackouts." 

The Rural PHC hybrid inverter initiative will ensure uninterrupted health services by keeping crucial technology and equipment functional to meet the community's essential primary healthcare requirements such as: 

  • IT equipment for dispensing medicine and handling patient information
  • Fridges for vaccines and medicine storage
  • Ventilation equipment at TB facilities
  • Consultation instrumentation
  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allows our facilities to be contactable

In phase 1, three of the 51 clinics that have been earmarked for the rollout have already had hybrid inverters installed. The Department has budgeted R35 million to complete this phase of the project while phase 2 will include 70 rural facilities and commence following the conclusion of phase 1 facilities. The total cost for both phases of this project at 121 rural PHC facilities is estimated at R 81million.

In addition to the hybrid inverters, the Department will also be embarking on Solar Panel Installations at 15 hospitals across the province at an estimated cost of R80 million. This will be done irrespective of further hospitals being exempted from load shedding by Eskom.

Dr Cloete added: “While we acknowledge this money could have been directed elsewhere, we cannot let our clients go without receiving essential health services due to a facility not having electricity. The department is committed to ensuring our facilities are empowered to look after the health needs of our communities.”