Liberia: Health Ministry, We Care Solar Hold One-Day Conference on Light Every Birth

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Monrovia – The Ministry of Health in partnership with We Care Solar has ended a one-day symposium aimed at sensitizing health workers on the importance of ensuring that expected mothers bring forth their babies in a lighted room. This is under a program called ‘Light Every Birth Initiative.’

Light Every Birth Initiative is a program under the We Care Solar that offers every woman the opportunity to give birth in a skilled public health facility with power and light.

The one-day conference took place on Thursday, July 18 at the Paynesville City Hall.

The daylong dialogue brought together medical practitioners from different counties across the country with other international partners.

Speaking, the Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah welcomed the initiative, describing it as a life-changing opportunity for the country’s health sector.

Dr. Jallah added that the initiative will help makes lives different because the lights being provided are not only serving patients but also the health center.

The Health Minister remembered some awful days she had at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital when there were no lights to deliver pregnant women. 

“Imagine that you are a pregnant woman, and you can imagine that maybe your husband is with you or maybe somebody from your community is with you and you walk to the gate of a facility and you enter the facility is dark. The midwife who is there to deliver you, you cannot even see her face clearly because it is so dark. They put you on the table but they cannot even see what they are doing because it’s dark, maybe they have a lantern.”

She continued: “I remember few years back, in the delivery room of JFK, there were no lights and we had a lantern that we had to share with the other delivery rooms. I remember us doing delivery in JFK Medical Center under a lantern light. So sometime you miss how to respond to the mother or baby because it is dark.”

She termed the ‘Light Every Birth Initiative’ as a ‘great service’ made in the health sector. 

Also, serving as keynote speaker, the Assistant Minister for Preventive Services at the Ministry of Health (MOH), Madam Joyce Sherman described the initiative as a “big project” for the improvement of the health sector.

“This is such a big contribution because most of our counties’ reports always include no lights to power our maternal clinics,” she said.

Minister Sherman encouraged health practitioners to be robust in responding to cases of birth at various health centers in order to curtail maternal birth.

“Now we have solved our light problems, let us re-examine our training, our concerns, and our reporting and our inventory when it comes to what happens after you do a delivery with the lights. Where do we neglect? This is a challenge to all of us, CHOs, doctors, nurses, we have lights, what do we do now?” Mrs. Sherman asked.

For his part, Africa Regional Director of We Care Solar, Dr. Ambrose Katungi Muhwezi said the mission of his entity is to save lives in childbirth by reducing delays in emergency care, increasing procedure safety and increasing access to skilled care for mothers and newborns.

According to Dr. Muhwezi, We Care Solar has equipped more than 3,900 health centers, and trained 16,000 health workers, serving 3.9 million mothers and newborns.

“We Care Solar designs compact solar suitcases to meet essential maternity care needs. They are designed to be safe, robust and efficient in powering critical obstetric and surgical lighting, mobile phones and fetal heart rate monitors and essential medical devices.”

Muhwezi: “We lead workshops that build local skills in solar installation, usage and maintenance, partnering with UN agencies and international NGOs.”

He added that each year, over 300,000 women die from pregnancy and childbirth complications, mostly in Africa and Asia.

We Care Solar is a non-profit organization based in California, USA dedicated to improving maternal health care in health facilities through access to renewable energy.

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