Improving Quality of Care: Solar Electricity
Imagine that you (or your wife, mother, sister, daughter, or friend) are nine months pregnant. You have been in labor for 2 days, and you know that something isn't right. You spend several months of your income to acquire the necessary supplies needed for delivery (Ugandan women are required to purchase and bring their own medical supplies for birthing in a health facility), and exhaustedly stagger down the road for hours in between contractions to the closest hospital. You arrive at 11 PM when it is pitch black outside. You stagger in the door to find one midwife. Relieved, you hobble to her desk to explain your problems, but the midwife informs you that since the power is out, the cesarean section you need cannot be performed. You will have to wait. For hours, you labor on the floor of a dark hospital maternity ward, illuminated only by the dim light of a kerosene lantern. What will happen to you? Will you survive? Will your baby survive?
For many women and their families, this is reality. Lack of reliable electricity in rural health centers and hospitals makes it incredibly difficult for health care providers to provide quality care; they cannot see to deliver and care for babies, diagnose problems, measure the appropriate dosages of life-saving medications, repair tears, manage bleeding, or start IVs. Surgeons cannot see to perform emergency cesarean sections, and are forced to either delay them--often to the deathly detriment of the mother and/or her newborn--or to operate by the meager light of a kerosene lantern, candle, or cell phone flash light, both of which severely impact the quality of care for women, children, and families.
Safe Mothers, Safe Babies combats this problem by partnering with rural health facilities, hospitals, and district health offices to install solar power in those facilities that conduct deliveries, surgeries, or child health procedures overnight. We use an innovative technology called the "Solar Suitcases" made by our fabulous partner organization, WE CARE Solar, which provide lighting, charge devices like mobile phones, and power medical devices like head lamps for focused light.
"But in postpartum... we have no light. So there when a mother has delivered it is when we always get problems. She remains in darkness, you never know she can easily bleed. You are not seeing what is going on."
-- Midwife, SAFE partner