WE CARE Solar

WE CARE Solar promotes safe motherhood and reduces maternal mortality in developing regions by providing health workers with reliable lighting, mobile communication, and blood bank refrigeration using solar electricity. The Problem Maternal mortality worldwide accounts for more than half a million deaths a year; 99 percent of these occur in underdeveloped countries. For every maternal death, at least 20 women suffer severe complications from childbirth. Major causes of maternal death include obstetric hemorrhage, obstructive labor, eclampsia, and sepsis. These emergencies cannot always be predicted, nor are they always preventable. However, with prompt, appropriate and reliable medical care...
Jan 13, 2017

A Brighter Year in Shinyanga

Yusta Mgaya, nurse, Zogobo Dispensary, Shinyanga
Yusta Mgaya, nurse, Zogobo Dispensary, Shinyanga

It has been a bright year for health workers and mothers in Tanzania because of you. In our previous report, we shared how we improved maternal health services in Sengerama with our Solar Suitcases. Since then, our program has reached other parts of Tanzania, including the Shinyanga, Iringa, Kigoma, Mara, and Njombe regions.

91 Solar Suitcases were shipped to Shinyanga in advance of our Solar Suitcase training. Eleven engineers and technicians from five districts attended the training, and learned to conduct Solar Suitcase installations and provide maintenance.

During the installations, health workers expressed their gratitude and excitement about the Solar Suitcases and the light they bring. At the Zogobo Dispensary, we met a nurse named Yusta Mgaya. She lives in a small building next to the dispensary, which allows her to attend to patients at night. Prior to Solar Suitcase installation, the dispensary had no electricity, and Yusta used a kerosene lamp to conduct nighttime deliveries. When the lamp was not working, she used her mobile phone to shed light, or relief on a patient’s own flashlight. There were times when there was no light at all.

Yusta was thrilled when the dispensary got a Solar Suitcase: “In the past, we used to get very apprehensive when we would get woken up at night to attend to a patient. We would start thinking of the difficulties in doing our job in the dark. But now with the Solar Suitcase, this problem has been solved!”

We also met Faustine Deleva, who is managing the Mwamanyuda Dispensary. He makes it a point that his patients receive care with compassion and respect despite having limited resources. During the Solar Suitcase training, he took extensive notes. When asked for his thoughts on the Solar Suitcase and its accessories, he smiled and said, “Light will let us work perfectly. Since we have light, everything will be done in a good way.”

Yusta and Faustine are just two of the dozens of health workers who no longer have to work in the dark. Through your support, we are able to ensure that mothers are given safe and dignified care.

Faustine Deleva, OIC, Mwamanyuda Dispensary
Faustine Deleva, OIC, Mwamanyuda Dispensary
Oct 14, 2016

Life-saving Light in Tanzania

Midwife at the Buzilasoga Health Center
Midwife at the Buzilasoga Health Center

Thanks to your support, the Solar Suitcases installed in Tanzania continue to improve health services offered to mothers and babies. Our work in Tanzania was recently featured in TakePart, a digital news magazine that ran a series on "Design and Innovation." In this feature, TakePart wrote about We Care Solar, and included interviews from a range of stakeholders, including a midwife from Sengerama, Tanzania who provided a vivid reminder about the necessity of reliable lighting for maternal health care.

In the article, midwife Justinian Jackson shares how "It was so difficult to work" before the Solar Suitcases arrived. In the past, he had to rely on light from a cellphone, kerosene lamps, or ambient light from the window to deliver a baby. Patients had to bring their own candles or kerosene lamps and if the mother had a tear during delivery, the patient's relative had to help hold the light for him to be able to use both hands.

"Even with someone holding the torch, there was still not enough light to see all of the tissues," he says. "No one wanted to come here for deliveries. Now, with the light, we deliver 15 to 20 babies per month, and mothers know they can come here and deliver safely."

Before, pregnant women in Buzilasoga, Sengerema did not want to deliver in local health clinics for fear of delivering in the dark. They "travel 25 miles, often in motorcycles, to go to the big hospital to have their babies." The same is experienced by other pregnant women in remote areas of Tanzania where reliable electricity is not available.

Because of our success in helping health workers save mothers' and babies' lives in Sengerema, the district requested an additional 25 Solar Suitcases to ensure that every health center had reliable lighting and power. We have shipped these additional Solar Suitcases to the district and are now awaiting placement in health facilities.

We are also installing more Solar Suitcases in other parts of Tanzania like in the Shinyanga, Iringa, Kigoma, Mara, and Njombe regions. Your support is helping us power more health clinics and turn into a reality our vision of making childbirth safe for all mothers in Tanzania, thank you very much. The full TakePart article is available here: http://www.takepart.com/feature/2016/09/12/solar-suitcases

Medical Assistant learns to use the Solar Suitcase
Medical Assistant learns to use the Solar Suitcase

Links:

Jul 8, 2016

Lighting Up Lives in Sengerema

Midwife checking fetal heartbeat using phone light
Midwife checking fetal heartbeat using phone light

Thanks to your support, our Solar Suitcases continue to help health workers, mothers and babies in Tanzania. One story from a local midwife reminded us about the impact of having reliable light and power.

Rachel is a midwife who works in a four-room clinic in Igaka, Tanzania. Rachel wanted to become a midwife since before she was 12 years old, and at the age of 23, she now cares for all the pregnant women in the surrounding villages. Although she loves her profession, Rachel never imagined that she would be delivering babies in a clinic that did not have reliable electricity. The health center in which she works is surrounded by rich soil land bearing green vegetables, tomatoes, abundant foliage and a plethora of farm animals. But it has no stable source of light.

When the sun sets, the bucolic setting is quickly shrouded in complete darkness. Rachel relies on patient family members to bring candles and oil lanterns to the labor room when they come for maternity care. The lighting is dim, but without this, the clinic is in utter darkness. Rachel’s only other recourse is to use a small beam of light from her cell phone. By holding this in her mouth, her hands are kept free for medical procedures. This exposes her to infection, and leaves her unable to communicate verbally with her patients.

Rachel described a delivery when she lost light just as the baby’s head was crowning. In complete darkness, Rachel struggled to guide the baby’s head through the birth canal, but couldn’t safely complete the delivery. She covered the baby and mother with a kanga – a traditional cotton cloth – then raced back to her home to fetch her small cell phone light. “By the grace of God, the woman and her baby survived.” But the experience left Rachel fearful of nighttime care.

When Rachel received a Solar Suitcase, she beamed with delight. Her experience at the clinic was transformed. Now there was bright light for nighttime care, she could keep her cell phone charged for emergency referrals, and she could easily detect the fetal heart beat during labor. In addition, the light has encouraged more women to choose skilled deliveries in the clinic over unattended home births.

Stories like this one remind us of how crucial it is for health workers to have the tools they need to save lives. Your support helps ensure that mothers in Tanzania have safer childbirth, thank you very much. 

Same clinic room with Solar Suitcase light
Same clinic room with Solar Suitcase light
 
   

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