Safe Births + Healthy Homes
Visit a Clinic
1 in 4 health clinics in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity. Imagine arriving at a maternity center to give birth by the dim light of a candle or a cell phone’s flashlight. Worse, imagine arriving at a clinic and finding it closed after sundown.
No lights, no healthcare.
But, it’s the middle of the night and you’re in labor. A joyous event quickly can become a frightening and dangerous experience.
Safe Births + Healthy Homes solar-electrifies frontline health clinics to improve maternal, infant, and community health outcomes.
Meet Nurse Charity
Nurse Charity is a nurse midwife at Kikonda Health Clinic III, a rural health center in Uganda serving 32,000 people. Kikonda, like many frontline clinics, is not connected to the grid and is accessed down unpaved and sometimes flooded roads. Kikonda has basic treatment rooms with one or two beds, a waiting area with wooden benches, a records and reporting room, a supply room, and a staff housing block.
Nurse Charity dreamt of working at Kikonda since she was very young. She loves being a midwife and is loved in turn by her many patients and co-workers. But before the clinic was electrified, providing quality care was challenging.
“It was hard for us to work at night, since we didn’t have power.”
When the sun went down, the clinic closed its doors. New mothers often delivered at home or in the community. Without access to trained nurses and sterile delivery rooms, maternal and infant health suffered.
In 2018, Let There Be Light International solar-electrified Kikonda HCIII, which increased its hours of operation from 12 to 24 hours/day. Working with Let There Be Light International and Solar Health Uganda, Nurse Charity helped field test and implement Safe Births + Healthy Homes in 2019.
Now that Kikonda is solar-electrified, the clinic stays open 24/7. Nurse Charity and her colleagues are able to provide improved healthcare access and services to more than 300 patients every week. Nurse Charity reports that patients and staff are safer and more comfortable.
Today is a typical day. Nurse Charity helps 30 women with family planning, antenatal care, and maternity services. As a midwife specialist, her favorite part of her job is helping mothers to safely deliver their beautiful new babies. “I can serve mothers any time they come – day or night!”
The Health Clinics
Safe Births + Healthy Homes (SB+HH) was launched at three Ugandan clinics in March 2019 – Butembe Health Center III, St. Mary’s, and Kikonda. In September 2020, SB+HH was launched at a fourth clinic, Kabbo HCIII. Solar electrification of rural clinics provides critical power for lighting and powering basic appliances.
The 4 clinics offer a wide range of health services and now stay open 24 hours/day. Services include maternity and postpartum care, vaccinations, emergency care, family planning, and other basic services.
Butembe HCIII is the largest of the Safe Births + Healthy Homes sites, serving 900 patients per week. Kabbo serves 400 patients per week. Kikonda and St. Mary’s serve 300 and 127 patients per week, respectively. The most common ailments are: respiratory and eye infections, malaria and stomach flu. Respiratory and eye infections are linked to and exacerbated by exposure to indoor air pollution in homes using kerosene lamps and smokey cookstoves. Malaria and its complications are also endemic in the area.
While many homes have insecticide treated bed-nets to help prevent malaria, patients often avoid using their nets due to a fear of fires caused by accidental contact between the nets and open-flamed kerosene lights. After receiving a solar light, 90% of mothers report using their bed-net more.
Clinic electrification is critical for healthcare access and delivery.
No matter where you live, healthcare requires reliable, safe energy!
No one knows this better than Nurse Charity, who spent the first 5 years of her career working in facilities without electricity.
Without access to energy, clinics cannot remain open after dark and communication and care is compromised. Furthermore, Charity and her colleagues need and deserve electricity in their staff quarters, a core component of Safe Births + Healthy Homes’ clinic electrification.
Butembe, Kikonda, and Kabbo are located in the central Uganda district of Kyankwanzi. Their sister clinic, St. Mary’s is located in the eastern Uganda district of Sironko.
The clinics are all remote, serving large and dispersed communities, with patients often walking 3+km to get to the clinic. Butembe, for instance is 10km from the nearest grid and serves 83,000 people.
Funding + Partnership Opportunities
LTBLI welcomes funding partnerships. All SB+HH partners receive recognition in our Annual Report and signage at the clinics. Let’s work together to shine a light on maternal and infant health and Shine On!
To learn about about how Safe Births + Healthy Homes is furthering the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, visit our Global Goals + Connections page.