Guest blog by Bridget Ryan.

As a student majoring in International Development, I study global inequalities and health. This is especially relevant today. During the global pandemic, the importance of healthcare access and delivery has become increasingly evident. For too many, healthcare is not a right or part of a robust social safety net but an out-of-reach privilege. In fact, 3.8 billion people globally and 27.5 million people in the United States have no health insurance. Furthermore, 1 in 4 health clinics in sub-Saharan Africa lack electricity. As we all know, COVID-19 is challenging health care systems around the world. Unfortunately, the pandemic demonstrates the vast and growing inequalities in medical access, delivery and services.

Pandemic Normal

Many of us are struggling to adjust to the new “pandemic normal.” However, we also should realize that we have a unique opportunity to shine a light on injustices. Researchers, communities, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and others are joining together to address issues grounded in poverty, health and the environment. A common theme is that access to energy is essential to address inequalities. Despite the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, COVID-19 has empowered us with the knowledge that we do have the power to support positive change.

Locally, essential workers are being shown appreciation in small acts of kindness. Globally, we are celebrating and supporting healthcare workers fighting for us on the front lines. Our ability to connect and to take collective action gives us hope in these dark times.

Action and Hope

Working with Let There Be Light International, I have seen the direct impact of individual and collective action. Donated solar lights are allowing off-grid students to study after dark. Solar-electrifying rural health clinics provides thousands of vulnerable community members with better care for longer hours.

Here, in the industrialized North we can take our access to healthcare for granted. But, handling COVID-19 or any health challenge without access to modern, electrified health centers or safe light at home is unimaginable. 

In order to make the best out of a bad situation, we can demonstrate the power of individual action and global unity. We can donate solar to make a home safer. Or, we can work together to solar-electrify an off-grid clinic. We have an opportunity to promote public health and equality across the globe. Let’s take it!