An international charity is developing programs to supply medical facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa with solar energy—bringing power generation to doctors who are often forced to perform procedures in the dark.
“To have light at night, the medical practitioners at Mtimabii have been using their own cell phone torches when they are charged, or they have been asking the patients to bring their own torch, if they can afford one,” writes SolarAid.
Now, with a solar power system installed at the health clinic, which serves about 42,000 people in and around the community of Mangochi in rural Malawi, doctors at Mtimabii have seen “the last baby to be born in the dark.”
Health facilities depend on electricity to provide modern health care to patients. However, three out of every four facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa—like Mtimabii—do not have access to reliable power, and one out of four has no electricity at all. Limited energy access leaves millions of people vulnerable to otherwise avoidable risks and complications, especially women and children, says SolarAid.
“It’s keeping them at risk of infection,” explained Mtimabii medical assistant Geofrey Makawa. “You cannot extract blood without light. You need to see. And we have a lot of injections there, too. You need to prevent yourself from contracting any infection. So it brings a lot of problems in our services.”
Baby Diana was born at Mtimabii on the night before the solar power system was installed. Her grandmother, who accompanied Diana’s mother, brought a flashlight to help with the delivery. But future Mtimabii patients and health care providers can look forward to illuminated medical procedures from now on.
“Having the light on [in] this facility, I think it will be a joyful thing to the community and the staff,” said Makawa.