Saved by a Solar Suitcase

Article Link: Saved by a Solar Suitcase

Nonprofit technology: We Care Solar

1) Issue: Health / Energy

2) Summary:

  • In maternity wards that lack reliable electricity in developing countries, doctors and midwives have trouble providing adequate care to mothers and newborns. Due to frequent, often unpredictable blackouts, patients are treated without sufficient lighting and basic medical equipment. In these situations, many mothers and babies can die due to pregnancy complications.
  • Stachel developed a solar suitcase that includes LED lights, solar panels, a battery, headlamps, chargers, and medical equipment, such as a fetal monitor. Her nonprofit, We Care Solar, has built and delivered hundreds of solar suitcases to medical facilities in 25 countries, mostly in Africa.
  • In two years, 112,000 mothers gave birth in facilities with solar suitcases. The solar kits have also been used for other emergencies, such as a cholera outbreak in the DRC in 2012, and the Nepal earthquake response in April and May this year.

3) Stakeholders:

  • Mothers and newborns, and other health patients
  • Doctors, nurses, and midwives
  • Hospital and maternity ward administrators

4) Steps for deployment:

  • Identify hospitals that frequently experience power outages throughout the developing world.
  • Scale up the production and distribution of solar suitcases to these hospitals.
  • Develop a monitoring and evaluation system to track the use of solar suitcases, for childbirth and other emergency situations, in order to further justify the need for solar suitcases in hospitals with limited and unreliable access to electricity, and to improve the technology.
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