Can you imagine attending your pregnancy check up or any routine doctor’s visit in the dark? In health care centers around the world, access to electricity can be the difference between life and death.
As many of you know, approximately 287,000 women worldwide still die every year from complications from pregnancy and childbirth. Areas with high rates of death and disease closely match areas where health facilities lack electricity. This means many vital, life-saving interventions cannot be undertaken.
Many technologies used to provide essential health services require electricity. However many healthcare facilities around the world—from rural clinics to city hospitals—still do not have access to reliable electricity.
When better lighting and power are introduced, health workers report fewer delays in providing life-saving care, more safe births and more satisfied patients. Front line healthcare workers are also able to provide community health services: a portable light makes a significant difference in being able to provide services in the evening, and charging mobile phones helps maintain critical communications with doctors and hospitals during emergencies.
In 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon created the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, making energy access, energy efficiency and increased use of renewable energy global priorities. Drawing on its 1,500 member Energy Access Practitioner Network, the UN Foundation is leading an effort with WHO, UN Women, the World Bank, private companies like Philips, and NGOs to help improve energy access for women’s healthcare. Bringing electricity to more health facilities will help enable vital life-saving interventions for women and newborns, while enhancing the quality of healthcare for the entire population.
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WE CARE Solar has developed an effective approach for rural health centers – an easily installed solar “suitcase” created by Dr. Laura Stachel to provide light and power basic equipment to help women previously delivering babies in the dark. Dr. Stachel is a top-ten finalist for this year’s CNN Heroes and you can vote for her daily right here.
To learn more about the Energy Access Practitioner Network, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credits: Doctor operating by headlamp, National Geographic; Maasai women, Nokero.