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Energy Globe World Award 2016

Finalist in the category Fire

Submitted by: We Care Solar
Country: Ethiopia

Solar Suitcases for Maternal Health - The Power to Save Lives

Initial field research in Nigerian hospitals in 2008 revealed that electricity was crucial for life-saving obstetric care. Pregnancy complications claim the lives of 287,000 women and over a million newborns each year, mostly in Africa and Asia, in regions without reliable electricity. Mothers in the developing world die every day giving birth in dark and unsafe conditions. The World Health Organization reported in 2013 that among eight sub-Saharan Africa nations, only 28% of health facilities had reliable electricity. The consequences can be tragic. Childbearing mothers and their newborns often fail to receive timely care for emergencies because of inadequate supply of electricity. Midwives struggle by kerosene lantern or candlelight to provide care, unable to adequately diagnose and treat medical conditions, often postponing or canceling critical procedures. Cesarean sections are delayed and critically ill patients are often turned away from hospitals lacking power. We Care Solar’s fieldwork in Africa has shown that even health centers connected to grid power can be crippled by darkness during evening hours. Clinics with generators often lack the funds for daily fuel and maintenance. Health centers without any source of power rely on substandard and hazardous sources of light that offer inadequate illumination for medical procedures, emit smoke with deleterious health effects, and increase the risk of fire and injury. Midwives in some countries are forced to request funds from patients for kerosene, candles or batteries, and many women stay home during labor to avoid these charges. In 2009, We Care Solar developed the Solar Suitcase, an economical compact solar electric system for medical lighting, mobile communication and essential medical devices. Once installed, midwives and doctors can identify pregnancy complications and conduct routine and emergency obstetric care without delay. Health workers using the Solar Suitcase report greater confidence and reduced strain during night shifts; midwives report that they no longer fear night duty. We Care Solar has enabled thousands of midwives and doctors to provide life-saving care. Over the past five years, the award-winning Solar Suitcases have brought lighting and essential power to 1,300 health centers in over 30 developing countries. More than 5,000 health workers have been trained to install and use the rugged solar electric systems. The Solar Suitcases have provided 1.5 million hours of nighttime medical lighting and replaced candles, kerosene lanterns and diesel generators, reducing the risk of fire, and averting more than 12,000 tons of CO2.

Fire - Finalists

  • Project: Mobile solar power stations
    Applicant: Multicon AG & Co. KG
    Country: Germany

  • Project: Solar Suitcases for Maternal Health
    Applicant: We Care Solar
    Country: Ethiopia

  • Project: Use Solar, Save Lives- Turning Kerosene into Honey
    Applicant: Sustainable Development For All
    Country: Kenya

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