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Solar lights are on at MMH!

MMH management have been working with a specialist NGO, Solar Without Frontiers, to provide solar lights and power at MMH. The English Reformed Church in Amsterdam with Wilde Ganzen raised substantial funds for this work. Latest news is available here. The first priority was lights and power for the paediatric wards and labour ward, the second was provision of a low energy light system for hospital corridors. These pilot projects are now in place and will enable the hospital to gain experience in the maintenance of solar equipment, and allow evaluation of the system in normal ward use. The system that has been installed is extendable, and we hope to be able to provide lights and power for the operating theatre and solar pumps for our boreholes as a further phase very soon.

Why solar?

Staff at MMH pride themselves on providing a high standard of care for their patients, but power supply problems are having an adverse impact on the ability of clinicians and nurses to provide quality care – imagine operating by torch light, the labour ward in darkness during a difficult delivery or the effect on a premature baby of a sudden cessation of oxygen supply. All the clinical departments require a reliable source of power for lights, oxygen concentrators, suction – essential for patient care.

Solar power is reliable, clean, easy to install and sustainable and, after the initial outlay for solar panels and batteries, cheap to run. The climate in Mulanje is suitable for solar power generation on 358 days of the year. The initial capital investment is considerable, not something that the hospital can manage on its own, but the benefits in improved quality of care and reduced utility bills will continue for many years.

Even with the compelling advantages that solar power offers, the Human Development Report, published by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), shows that the majority of Africans are still reliant on traditional energy sources. This work will not only benefit Mulanje Mission Hospital by providing reliable, low cost, renewable energy, but will stimulate interest in solar energy from individuals, hospitals, schools and similar institutions in this part of Malawi by providing a demonstration of what can be achieved.

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