In Uganda, each year an estimated 6,000 women and 35,000 infants die each year from childbirth related complications. Access to skilled health care and appropriate technologies can save many lives. But in many countries, the difference between life and death for many dependent depends upon reliable light and electricity. Without that, health workers cannot provide life-saving care. Midwives struggle to deliver babies by candlelight, life-saving procedures are attempted by flashlight, and patients suffer delays in care or are turned away from health centers unable to function in darkness.
We Care Solar is gearing up for our Saving Lives at Birth Grand Challenge Grant installation in Uganda. This project will cover an entire region of Southwest Uganda, providing Solar Suitcases to 200 health facilities. Additionally, it provides an innovative package of interventions to improve service delivery, including a fetal Doppler to detect fetal well-being, phone charging to enhance patient referrals, an electronic learning curriculum for nurses, and an electronic health management information system, and community-based awareness campaigns.
Hospital power outages in Uganda are not an unusual occurrence. “There are so many stories about the power going off in operations, I can’t even tell them all, ” bemoaned Dr. Kato from Iganga hospital. “When the power goes off during an operation, we use whatever is around – a torch. This is very stressful during an operation, and the light is not sufficient, but this is all we had.”
In preparation for the Saving Lives at Birth grant and other installation requests, 14 women from the US, India, Africa, and Mexico joined We Care Solar in Berkeley, California in October for a six-day training in Solar Energy, Maternal Health and Solar Suitcase installations. They wired a Solar Suitcase, climbed on rooftops, learned to fix broken solar electric systems, and practiced teaching medical providers to use the Solar Suitcase.
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