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In rural maternity wards, reliable lighting can literally save lives. We have been following the experience of one midwife, Rhoda Zinom, for three years. In 2008, she was trying her best to provide night time care for childbearing mothers in a hospital with an epilectic power supply. She delivered babies under the dim glow of a kerosene lantern when the hospital electricity was down, and struggled to diagnose and treat complications such as hemorrhage or eclampsia. She told us that lighting has transformed nighttime care, and has contributed to the dramatic drop in maternal mortality at her hospital. She said without good lighting, it was challenging to conduct safe deliveries, suture areas of bleeding, and resuscitate babies. The solar powered lights enable the maternity staff to do their jobs confidently and improved health outcomes for so many. She said that women in her community have come to expect solar lighting, and are more likely to deliver in clinics when lighting can be assured. She uses a solar suitcase to light up a maternity ward in her own private clinic, and has additional lights in a small “lying-in” in the same building. She is so very grateful for the powerful gift of light – something we take for granted in the United States hospitals, but something that is a game changer in health centers without reliable electricity.

Evelyn Stachel