November 29, 2018 – At the Uganda Reproductive Health Assembly in Kampala, Dr. Laura Stachel joined with Honorable Jane Aceng, Minister of Health, to announce that Uganda has pledged to “Light Every Birth” as part of the global initiative to support healthy childbirth with affordable, accessible and clean solar lighting and electricity.
“Light Every Birth” is ensuring that medical lighting and power is available for maternal health centers that lack reliable lighting and electricity so essential for safe deliveries. To celebrate the launch, We Care Solar is donating 350 Solar Suitcases to health centers lacking reliable electricity, with major support from the UBS Optimus Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, The Meadow Fund, and Music for Relief Foundation. This builds upon prior efforts that equipped 450 Ugandan health facilities with Solar Suitcases.
“Effective quality of care for mothers and newborns is critical to prevent and manage complications and is dependent upon light and electricity. Even the best-trained practitioners are handicapped in darkness.” said Honorable Jane Aceng. “The Light Every Birth initiative will complement our efforts to achieve universal healthcare access and improve maternal and newborn survival in rural communities.”
Honorable Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of Parliament was delighted that the Solar Suitcase program is expanding throughout Uganda, “The Light Every Birth initiative will bridge the energy access gaps, ensuring round the clock management of deliveries, pediatric emergencies and administration of emergency obstetric care.”
We Care Solar Executive Director Laura Stachel added, “All women have the right to deliver safely in clinics with reliable lighting and power. We look forward to working closely with the Ministry of Health and all our Light Every Birth partners to support Safe Childbirth.”
Light Every Birth is part of a global call to action where all mothers can access prompt, appropriate obstetric care provided in well-equipped health centers. Globally, 300,000 women and more than one million newborns die every year from complications of childbirth. In hundreds of thousands of health centers lacking reliable electricity, midwives and doctors struggle to provide critical care in near-darkness. The consequences are tragic.
We Care Solar designed an innovative, compact, rugged “Solar Suitcase” tailored for maternal health facilities and created programs to build local capacity in solar installation, operation, and maintenance. In Uganda, We Care Solar has partnered with UNICEF, CUAMM, Doctors with Africa, Save the Children, Pathfinder International, and Safe Mothers Save Babies to conduct successful programs since 2012. 2018 implementation partners include Brick by Brick, Healthy Child Uganda, Intrahealth, and Ekide Ltd.
Light Every Birth Uganda builds upon the Electrification for Rural Transformation project and supports governmental efforts to strengthen the capacity of rural health facilities to lower maternal and newborn deaths. Through this collaborative and bold initiative, Uganda will become a “Model of Excellence” for electrification of maternity care.