Using Solar Energy to Promote Safe Motherhood

Hargeisa, Somaliland
Sporadic electricity compromises the ability of community midwives to provide safe, appropriate, and timely medical care.

Midwives are forced to make treatment decisions without the benefit of necessary diagnostic tests. Obstetric procedures are conducted under grossly suboptimal conditions, and can have tragic consequences.

In collaboration with We Care Solar, the Edna Adan University Hospital is poised to promote safe motherhood and reduce maternal mortality by providing health workers with reliable lighting, mobile communication, and medical devices using solar electricity.

A key strand in the quest to re-build Somaliland’s health infrastructure after the civil war with Somalia has been the training of health care professionals, with a longstanding goal of training 1,000 midwives to serve the needs of women, their children and families in distant and isolated areas of the country. The Edna Adan University Hospital has an impressive 15-year track record as a major referral institution for the Horn of Africa, developing health care infrastructure and training professionals to serve where the need is greatest.

The backbone of Somaliland’s health care delivery system is the Mother and Child Health (MCH) center, of which there are 80 spread throughout rural areas. Maternal and infant health is targeted through antenatal and neonatal care provided by community midwives trained by Edna Adan University and includes health assessments and vaccinations for polio, BGC, DPT and measles. Community midwives are also able to treat common childhood illnesses leading to high mortality rates such as asthma, dehydration, diarrhea, and other infections. Although these centers are more accessible to the largely nomadic population outside of Hargeisa, the level of care is very poor - due to the lack of electricity.

In order to reach more vulnerable people, community midwives in four rural areas outside of Hargeisa will be equipped with solar suitcases. By bringing solar suitcases into communities such as Baligubadle and Gumber (with populations between 15,000-25,000 each), it is expected that the morbidity and mortality rates of infants, children and their mothers in particular, will significantly improve. With electricity, the care of those with treatable conditions such as HIV/AIDS, cholera, and measles can also be more easily managed and lifelong consequences reduced.

Support from ConnectHer would help provide Solar Suitcases in four rural areas outside of Hargeisa, Somaliland. Each suitcase includes two 20 watt solar panels, a 14 amp-hour sealed lithium ferrous phosphate battery, a 15A charge controller, two LED headlamps, a phone charger, a AA/AAA battery charger, and a fetal Doppler as well as hardware for installation.

The suitcases will be given to community midwives who provide urgently needed primary health care to infants, children and their families. Never has the need for solar suitcases been greater as the whole region is now gripped by a devastating drought, with thousands of people vulnerable to infection, disease andsevere malnutrition. With few lit health centers, most people in rural communities have no or limited access to health care, hence, even before the drought, the country had one of the highest levels of maternal, infant, and child mortality with 1 in 9 children failing to reach their fifth birthday. According to Save the Children's World Report, Somaliland has a maternal mortality rate of between 1,000 and 1,400 per 100,000.

Comments (1)
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This is good work