Women giving birth in the United States have lots of options, from tub births to the traditional hospital. But plenty of women around the world can only pray to get through their labors alive. Not because their doctors aren’t good but because their doctors lack things as simple as light. That was what American OB/GYN Dr. Laura Stachel told CNN she found on a research trip to Nigeria in 2008.
Nigeria is one of the top ten worst places in the world for women to give birth and Dr. Stachel saw firsthand why. She was observing a team of doctors performing an emergency C-section when the electricity went out. The doctors, she said, barely flinched and she held a flashlight as they did their best under the conditions. But the hospital had to delay procedures for other women until daylight because the electricity was out for several days.
During her trip she saw midwives use candles, kerosene lanterns and even cell phone screens while delivering babies. She went back home and worked with her engineer husband to develop a free, solar-powered light source for Nigeria’s state hospital. The solar suitcase contains a solar panels that provide medical-quality light as well as fetal heart monitors, charging stations for cell phones and batteries for headlamps and walkie talkies. Dr. Stachel flew back to Nigeria with her prototype but doctors insisted she leave it because it would be a help to them immediately.
Dr. Stachel and her husband Hal Aronson started the nonprofit We Care and their design has made it to other countries, helping to save more mothers and babies.
Visit the We Care Solar website atwecaresolar.org and see how to help.