7-8 JUNE 2017 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Investing in energy and women's health

Investing in energy and women's health

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:15

Key points

  • Both women's health and efficient uses of energy are essential to development; both can be achieved in low-cost ways.
  • Business models have to be both affordable and sustainable.



Participants concentrated on how to empower women by investing in low-cost energy and women's health, key drivers for development that also offer a high return on investment. Three case studies highlighted Philips' goal to significantly improve the lives of 3 billion people by 2025 through affordable energy access, access to sustainable health and energy efficiency. The pilot models are a first step towards sustainable and affordable business models.

In some sub-Saharan countries, 25 % to 38 % of the population has no electricity, with dire consequences for women's health. Across the world,
300,000 women die every year of complications linked to pregnancy and childbirth. The need for electricity is vital for sterilisation equipment, refrigeration, and simply to be able to see both patient and baby.

‘Your skills and training as a doctor are worthless without access to energy," said Marie-Vincente Pasdeloup, European Communications Consultant, United Nations Foundation.

  • Fuel-efficient, low-pollution stoves in Rwanda are an effective example of a public-private partnership involving Philips, the African Enterprise Challenge Fund and a small company in Rwanda. The reliance on wood and charcoal for cooking is linked to pollution, ill health, deforestation and wasted time and money. In Rwanda, 86 % of expended energy is biomass, and of that 99 % is produced by cooking. These new pellet stoves are clean and cheap, reducing toxic emissions by over 90 %. Philips has invested in this area but is looking for active partnerships, including public funding.
  • Some 1.6 billion people worldwide have no access to energy. Community light centres funded by Philips in Africa are one way to offer affordable energy. The solar-charged LED lighting can be used in health clinics, schools and football stadiums. They also have an emotional impact: ‘A new part of life opens up to people by transforming day into night," said Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public & Government Affairs, Philips Lighting.
  • One in seven women in Africa die in labour. In 2008, 350,000 died and many suffer from life-long complications. The Emergency Obstetrics Newborn Unit in Cape Town, Stellenbosch, South Africa, co-funded by Philips, is trying to reduce that figure. In South Africa in 2010, there were an estimated 320 deaths per 100,000 women. The Tygerberg Hospital made a commitment to improving maternal health care by tackling the main causes of death – hypertension, bleeding and sepsis.  The hospital's early identification of women at risk and their monitoring has significantly decreased mortality. The plan is to bring this blueprint to small hospitals across the country.


Participants raised the question of business models. Philips said that there was a limit to donations and that these ideally should create a momentum resulting in business models involving community banks and delayed reimbursement.