Editorial from EIR Daily Alert — June 15, 2020
June 15 (EIRNS)—A Brookings Institution article “You Can’t Fight Pandemics without Power—Electric Power,” covering the UN’s “The Energy Progress Report Tracking Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 7” published June 5, in one sense helps confirm the focus of LaRouchePAC’s report, “The LaRouche Plan To Reopen the U.S. Economy: The World Needs 1.5 Billion New, Productive Jobs,” on building a new worldwide hospital and public health system. In particular, it confirms the essential emphasis in this effort which LaRouchePAC placed on as much as 70,000 MW of new electric power for the developing sector. The point of the Brookings authors—and the UN study they cover—is that this must be provided by building solar and wind farms, a mistake which would not merely doom any such effort, but encourage the outbreak of the pandemics it pretends to fight. Brookings has no interest whatever in providing electrical power for poor people, but advertises locally electrified hospitals to fight the pandemics the imperialist-created poverty will induce.
At the same time comes the terrible news that hospital systems in Indian and Bangladeshi cities are overwhelmed by COVID-19 and that sick patients are starting to be turned away and die. This is not to speak of Brazil’s hospitals, Ecuador’s, Chile’s, Ghana’s, South Africa’s…—but India is a country of 1.3 billion people. This must be changed.
The Brookings authors say the number of people worldwide with no access to electricity has fallen from 1.2 billion in 2010 to just about 800 million in 2018; but that if the measure is changed to the more critical one of access to reliable electric power, the picture is quite different. For example, just 28% of all hospitals across the developing nations have reliable electricity. Moreover, they report, 25% of health clinics in six countries surveyed by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 7—Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Niger—lack electricity completely, and this had not changed since 2010. A study of 33 hospitals in 10 countries found that unreliable power was the single most common cause of medical equipment failure.
Virtually all current diagnostic tests for COVID-19 require electricity; communicating patients’ records requires electricity. Electricity determines the effectiveness of “the many resources that enable health systems to detect, prevent, and treat infectious diseases; clean water, decent equipment, qualified staff, and medical supplies…. Patients who need further diagnosis (e.g., pulse oximetry) or treatment with ventilators or oxygen masks have to be placed in clinics with reliable power; outages for even a few minutes can be life-threatening. Besides, electricity powers sanitizing and cleaning equipment like autoclaves and air filtration and, in some places, pumped clean water. These are necessary for preventing the spread of infection among patients and medical workers.”
Hospital and clinic staff, whether veteran professionals or those newly trained for newly-built facilities, will want to live in homes with reliable electricity.
And looking ahead to delivery of a vaccine, once approved and produced in billions of rounds, “The WHO estimates that nearly 50% of freeze-dried and 25% of liquid vaccines are wasted each year, in large part due to cold chain electricity disruptions.”
All those developing nations like Ghana and particularly other African nations which now want to mobilize to build new district and regional hospitals and clinics to fight COVID-19, face four challenges: Building new facilities with modern capacities; recruiting and training staff; providing large amounts of fresh water; and powering those facilities. The Brookings article makes clear how extensive the electricity need for medical care is. Equally, if not more important, is the need for electrical power for the populations the medical delivery system serves.
So, LaRouchePAC’s estimate of up to 70,000 MW of new power capacity is essential. It must be a combination of small gas turbine-powered and small modular nuclear reactors; solar and wind are so relatively inefficient that this new power would require 50-70 times as much facility area as would this same amount of nuclear power—and the former would be intermittent—impermissible with medical facilities—and require gas turbine backup anyway.
LaRouchePAC’s report showed that 50 million new, productive jobs could be created in a generation in the United States, including 6 million new productive employments in 2020-21, as part of creating 1.5 billion productive jobs worldwide, 110 million of them in 2020-21 — all led off by exactly this building and powering and staffing of a new worldwide healthcare system.
The United States and India must partner immediately to provide the credit and the engineering for new, fully equipped hospitals to be built in modular fashion, with China adding credit and its fast, ground-up hospital construction method shown in Wuhan. This means the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. (DFC) and Ex-Im Bank, India’s National Development Fund, and China’s Export-Import Bank funding the construction. To provide the electric power, all three countries are expert, and so is Russia, which leads in putting nuclear power plants into countries around the world.
And this must be done all across the developing sector, and done immediately.
Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche has been calling since the start of the year for the leaders of the four powers—India, China, Russia and the United States—to hold a summit to launch this new credit system and construction.
In the United States, Obama’s ban on credit for nuclear construction abroad must end, by executive action for which the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has applied.
For further credit to build infrastructure in the United States, H.R.6422 in the House, the National Infrastructure Bank Act of 2020, must be passed.
And Glass-Steagall must be re-enacted by H.R.2176 in the House, to end the Federal Reserve’s one-side bailout of Wall Street investment banks and restore commercial banks that will lend for these infrastructure projects.