Lighting the Darkness in Partnership with WE CARE Solar and Rural Communities!

Can you imagine personally delivering–or birthing–a baby in total darkness? What if your wife, mother, sister, or friend needed to undergo an emergency cesarean section to save her life or the life of her unborn child’s? These thoughts are terrifying, and Safe Mother, Safe Babies believes that nobody should ever face such conditions as a reality. That is why SAFE partnered with WE CARE Solar to bring Solar Suitcases to Ugandan health facilities’ maternity wards and operating theaters. Our first set of installations took place in December, but right now, WE CARE Solar is in Uganda doing more installations as we speak! Check out the pictures and captions below for some insight into their experiences with SAFE! 
Above: Operating Theater Nurse Rebecca with the December-installed Solar Suitcase in the Iganga District Hospital Operating Theater. She is holding the mobile light that the OR team uses during cesarean sections (so they can get just the right positioning) when the power goes out! WE CARE Solar Technical Director and Engineer, Hal Aronson, is in the background.

Above: WE CARE Solar Executive Director, Laura Stachel, and Technical Director, Hal Aronson, at the Lubira Health Center Solar Suitcase Celebration! The community groups with which SAFE works put on a HUGE celebration to promote the Solar Suticase and celebrate the help they received from WE CARE Solar and SAFE. It featured songs, dramas, dancing, and a health fair, and was the biggest celebration we’ve had yet (hundreds of people came)!

Above: During the celebration, Laura Stachel (clinically trained OB/GYN) went into the health center to help deliver a health baby boy under the newly installed Solar Suitcase lights. The mother was so appreciative of all the help she received that she named her son “Hal” after Hal Aronson, WE CARE Solar’s Technical Director who installed the Solar Suitcase!

This is further proof of the great work that can happen when two dynamic and dedicated nonprofits work TOGETHER to bring sustainable change to rural maternal and child health. We have loved working with WE CARE Solar, and are excited for all the work we will continue to accomplish together, lighting up the darkness, in full and equal partnership with rural Ugandan women, their families, and health facilities.

The Solar Suitcase at Work!

Check out this photo from SAFE interns Hayley Heath, Ahsley Larsen, and Rachel Fisher. Hayley, Ashley, and Rachel have been in Uganda since May (3 month stay!) evaluating, “Light the Night,” our joint project with WE CARE Solar that brough 20 Solar Suitcases to Ugandan maternal health facilities. In the picture below, the Iganga District Hospital Operating Theater staff are using a mobile Solar Suitcase light to start an IV on a newborn during a power outage. Awesome work all the way around!!

Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report

A new report entitled Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report came out two weeks ago and is the first of its kind. It provides global and regional estimates of preterm birth and illustrates how preterm birth is becoming an increasingly dire problem around the world, with highest rates occurring in sub-saharan Africa and South Asia. According to the report, after pneumonia, preterm birth is now the second leading cause of death for children under five, globally. Even for babies who survive preterm birth, there is a high chance that they will be permanently disabled, which adds an extra burden on to already struggling families.

The report is very informative regarding the problem, but it also suggests a plan of action and looks towards solutions, hopefully which, as the report outlines, will reduce infant deaths caused by preterm birth by 50% by the year 2025.

The goals to realize a solution include:

Prevention:

  • Preconception care package, including family planning (e.g. birth spacing and adolescent friendly services), education and nutrition especially for girls, and STI prevention
  • Antenatal care packages for all women, including screening for and management of STIs and targeted care of women at increased risk of preterm birth
  • Provide education to promote appropriate induction and cesarean 

Care of the preterm baby:

  • Essential and extra newborn care, especially feeding support
  • Neonatal resuscitation
  • Kangaroo Mother care
  • Management of premature babies with complications, especially respiratory distress syndrome and infection
  • Comprehensive neonatal intensive care, where capacity allows

It is wonderful to know that preterm birth is finally being acknowledged as a vitally important issue in need of address and action around the world, particularly in Africa. SAFE has already been working towards solutions of preterm birth, both immediate and longer term, particularly with regards to the antenatal care of preterm babies. As a result of the Light the Night solar panel project implementation, when emergency caesarean sections are required, many health centers around Uganda are now able to provide safer and more effective surgeries without fear of power loss. With this solar powered light, health workers can also provide better antenatal care to preterm infants and their mothers.

Furthermore, through educational sessions and community health fairs, SAFE empowers women’s and men’s groups to be more aware of important neonatal care issues such as good nutrition, sanitation, and immunizations.

SAFE’s motorcycle ambulance program also addresses the issue of surprise preterm labor and birth, by efficiently transporting pregnant mothers in labor to health centers, so that they may get the care, treatment, and maybe even surgery, they need.

Check out the full report by following this link:

http://www.who.int/pmnch/media/news/2012/preterm_birth_report/en/index.html

Light the Night Featured by Women Deliver

We are so excited to share that Women Deliver featured “Light the Night”–our joint project with WE CARE Solar lighting up rural health centers and hospitals all over Uganda (including partnerships with AMREF Uganda and the White Ribbon Alliance Uganda)–on their Facebook Page and blog! SAFE is honored to be counted among the many other incredible solutions that Women Deliver features on a regular basis. Woohoo! Check it out here: http://www.womendeliver.org/updates/entry/celebrate-solutions-solar-energy-for-safer-births/

Light the Night Headed to Uganda!

Last weekend, SAFE Founder Jacqueline Cutts and Technical Director Richard Cutts (along with their son, Jacob) headed to Berkeley, CA to be trained in the installation, repair, maintenance, and usage of the Solar Suitcase. Later this month, SAFE will receive 20 Solar Suitcases to install in Ugandan health facilities, including the clinics with which we regularly work on other maternal and child health projects, in addition to the health centers and hospitals affiliated with several other partner organizations (including AMREF, UNICEF, and the Uganda Development and Health Associates, among others). We would like to give a HUGE thank you to the Segal Family Foundation for making this possible, as well as to WE CARE Solar for the incredible project, superior teaching skills, and partnership!! 
WE CARE Solar Co-founders Laura Stachel, MD (Executive Director) and Hal Aronson
(Technology Director) with SAFE’s Jacquie and Richard Cutts (and their son, Jacob).
Solar Suitcases at the MRI factory in California, being prepared for shipment!

Fully assembled Solar Suitcases, being shipped THIS WEEK!!!

Partner WE CARE Solar wins the Nokia Health Award at the Tech Awards 2011!

A hearty round of applause and shout out to our partner WE CARE Solar for winning the Nokia Health Award at the Tech Museum’s Tech Awards last night! Check out the link below to watch a clip about the Solar Suitcase and to see Dr. Laura Stachel and Hal Aronson win the award!

Latest Videos « CBS San Francisco

SAFE Co-awarded Solar Grant!

It is our great pleasure to share that Safe Mothers, Safe Babies has been co-awarded a large grant with parter WE CARE Solar from the Segal Family Foundation for Light the Night. This will provide funding for SAFE to install a total of 20 WE CARE Solar Suitcases in Ugandan health facilities, and allow us to do participatory, demand-generating outreach in the catchment areas of several of those institutions. So excited, and full of gratitude for great partners and supporters!

SAFE Founder, Jacquie Cutts, and husband/SAFE Technology Director, Richard Cutts, will be flying to Uganda in December to implement the project. Check back for updates soon!

Announcing Light the Night with Humless, Inc.

We are pleased to announce our partnership with Humless, Inc. on “Light the Night”–a project that will bring solar electricity to two rural health centers and the Iganga District Hospital Maternity Ward and Operating Theater. Humless, Inc. is a Utah-based solar company that developed highly efficient, lithium solar units. Bringing these units to Uganda will allow medical providers the light they need to provide adequate care; it will also help to increase the demand for services by strengthening public perception of the health centers. Finally, it will reduce deadly delays in cesarean sections (currently, they are sometimes done by flashlight or kerosene lantern). After a matching $5,000 grant from an anonymous donor, Humless is helping SAFE to fundraise the remaining money for the project. Please see video below to learn more about what we’re doing!

Humless Solar Project

Thanks to the generous support of a US-based alternative energy company, Humless, SAFE is initiating a quick capacity-building project to install innovative solar technology at six health centers within Bugweri Sub-County. Humless has agreed to provide their easy-to-use, lithium-based solar units (as opposed to lead-based), designed to last for many hours with one charge, to SAFE at cost and moreover to match donations dollar-for-dollar. Towards this endeavor, we are seeking to raise $3,000; we currently have raised $1,000. Your contribution to the SAFE’s Lighting Rural Uganda Project will be much appreciated! Please visit www.safemotherssafebabies.org for information on how to donate, or direct inquiries to safemothers.safebabies@gmail.com!