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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Solar Lighting Saves Babies Born At Night

By Esther Nakkazi

In places where there is no electricity to light up a health facility at night, the risk of the baby dying in a night birth is high. Karamoja, in north eastern Uganda, is one such remote facility with no light at night in most of the hospitals and clinics.

That drives women away from delivering babies in health facilities and they either give birth at home or with Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA's). In some health facilities, however, staff do what they can to assist. Even without light at night, they use torches, candle light or wick lamps during the delivery process.

The Italian non-profit, Medici con l’Africa, CUAMM, in its project named “Responding to chronic emergency in Karamoja”, has been providing technical assistance and complementary health-system-strengthening interventions in the region.

Among these interventions is a simplified solution to lighting of maternity wards using a Solar Suitcase. This is an easy-to-use power unit that provides health workers with lighting and power for mobile communication, laptop commuters and small medical devices.

At the first Uganda National Maternal and Newborn Health conference held in Kampala (15-17 June), Dr. Peter Lochoro, the Country Representative and CUAMM in Karamoja, explained that there has been an increase in delivery from maternity centres as a result of lighting maternities with solar power.

In Kaabong, in the Karamoja region, the average number of night-time deliveries per month jumped from three to 18. Meanwhile, the day time deliveries remained constant at six in same period.

“We made women comfortable at night and the health workers were able to do their job with ease,” said Lochoro.
Sometimes simple innovations are all that is necessary to reverse a statistic.

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