Solar Suitcases Bring Light to Mothers in Labor
300,000 mothers die each year around the world, often in regions without reliable electricity. When health facilities have no light, mothers deliver in darkness, c/sections are conducted by flashlight, and many patients fail to get life-saving care, resulting in unnecessary loss of life.
When Dr. Laura Stachel studied maternal mortality at a Nigerian hospital in 2008, she had no idea that the lack of reliable power could result in the loss of lives. The state hospital she visited was used the public utility, but this provided electricity only a portion of each day. At night, midwives struggled to care for patients by candlelight, c/sections were cancelled or conducted by flashlight.
Together with her solar innovator husband, Hal Aronson, Stachel developed a portable solar electric kit that fit inside her suitcase and could be brought to any health facility in the world. The Solar Suitcase contains LED lights for medical and surgical care, charges cell phones for emergency referrals, and includes LED headlamps that come with their own rechargeable batteries. It provides essential electricity for childbirth.
The first deployment of these systems occurred in June 2009 in Nigeria. Now these systems have been introduced in eighteen countries, including Haiti, to aid medical relief teams after the 2010 earthquake; Liberia, where the World Health Organization brought them to 20 rural health clinics, and Uganda.
Most recently, the Solar Suitcases were deployed in Sierra Leone, in partnership with UNFPA and the Ministry of Health, and are being used in 20 facilities. Clinicians using the Solar Suitcase report that the Solar Suitcase is transformative.
‘The Solar Suitcase has changed everything for the patients, the health workers, and even the relatives,’ reported one midwife in Nigeria. Health workers no longer fear working at night. They can conduct procedures safely and promptly. Surgeons can conduct c/sections 24 hours a day. Mothers and infants can receive efficient and timely care, and more rural women are seeking skilled care.
The solar suitcase was designed for maternal health care, but the high-efficiency lights can be used in any medical setting. The most powerful story came from the DR Congo, where Dr. Jacques Sebisaho brought the Solar Suitcase to his clinic on the Island of Idjwi. When he arrived with the bright yellow case, the village was on the verge of a cholera outbreak. Soon the clinic was flooded with patients, and Jacques set up an outdoor infirmary. Using the Solar Suitcase, he worked through the nights with his team, caring for dozens of mothers, fathers and children afflicted with cholera.
To his amazement, the lights enabled the health staff to monitor and treat all the patients at the clinic, and for the first time in the history of the island, none of the 120 victims died. Dr. Sebisaho credits the Solar Suitcase with this success, and told us that past epidemics resulted in a 50% mortality rate. The Solar Suitcase may be small, but it can be adapted to power medical equipment, including blood bank refrigerators.
This powerful solution is bringing light and hope to thousands of families and health workers in regions where darkness used to mean death to those without electricity.
More About This Charity
Best New Charity
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.
- This Achievement raised $800,000
- This charity raised $500,000 in the past year
- This Achievement helped 50,000 people
- This charity helped 30,000 people in the past year
- We brought reliable solar lighting and power to 170 health facilities in developing countries, serving 35,000 mothers in labor and their babies.
Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda