Solar Energy Improves Health Sector Service Delivery in Kasese | WWF wwfuganda

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Solar Energy Improves Health Sector Service Delivery in Kasese

“Solar electricity is always on; it never goes off. We now hold our immunization programmes without any hindrances, and we are saving money that we used to spend on buying kerosene and candles,” he says, with a smile.

In the remote Sub County of Maliba in Kasese District sits two Health Centre IIIs: Mukathi and Isule. Even though the two are a bit distant from each other, they both have a capacity of handling over 50 patients daily, and on specific days, they also carry out immunization.

However, the two health centres have always battled with the challenge of getting a reliable source of energy to power refrigerators where they store vaccination drugs and their laboratory microscopes.

Charles Kabagambe Bwambale, who volunteers at the Mukathi Health Centre, explains that they also faced a challenge of handling expectant mothers who would go to deliver from the health centre at night because they didn’t have any source of light.

Bwambale says that they would use Kerosene lamps and at times candles to handle such mothers and other clients in the darkness, but is also quick to note that these sources of light had their serious disadvantages.

For instance, the candles and kerosene were both expensive to buy, and the soot they would emit had soiled all the walls and roofs of the health centre. The situation wasn’t any better at Isule Health Centre.

He notes that at times they would also forego immunization because the gas cylinders that power refrigerators to ensure the vaccines are safe would at times run dry, rendering their drugs ineffective.

But thanks to World Wide Fund (WWF) solar project that realised the challenges that the two health centres were facing and donated complete solar systems to each of them in August 2018. The health Facilities are now operating without any hindrances related to electricity.

For example, Bwambale says that that their refrigerator for vaccines have since never gone off and all the drugs are stored safely.
“Solar electricity is always on; it never goes off. We now hold our immunization programmes without any hindrances, and we are saving money that we used to spend on buying kerosene and candles,” he says, with a smile.

He also says that as a result of having a reliable source of electricity which is at the same time free, the number of expectant mothers to the health centre has since increased.

Bwambale recalls the times when mothers would struggle to go to other distant health centres and at times die on their way because they could not help them at Mukathi.
“We nowadays get between 12 and 20 patients who seek our services at night, including expectant mothers, and we work on all of them. Some even get admitted because we have enough power to light the whole place,” Bwambale says.

For Sarah Kabuho, a nurse at Isule, life and their service delivery at the health centre have since changed. She notes that they can now do most of the laboratory tests that require a microscope because is it now fully operational.

Kabugho recalls that at times they would fail to treat clients that would present with symptoms of malaria because they didn’t have a functional microscope to take their blood samples and check whether or not the patients were suffering from the suspected disease.

“But now the microscope is working. We can’t treat any malaria patient before confirming that it’s malaria. Life has become simpler and better for our clients now,” says Kabugho.

On the side of entertainment at the health centre, Kabugho notes that they had a television set, but could always miss watching news and other important information on TV because they had a weaker solar system that wouldn’t power the whole TV set.

“These days we can’t miss news because our TV is always on. Even though we are in a remote area, we are always updates on what’s going in the country and the world at large,” the nurse adds.

She notes that actually, there are patients who would at times prefer the dangerous self-medication from home, but with a functional TV set, they nowadays go to the health centre to get treatment but also watch news and other entertaining content.

But it’s not only the medics who are appreciating: even clients are equally happy about the solar energy.  Sarah Musoki is a resident of Malib Village recalls that before the solar system at Mukathi she used to carry her sickly son at night with a candle and walk to the health facility for treatment.

What Musoki can’t forget is that in most cases, she would find the health centre closed because the nurses would be unable to work in darkness at night.

“Since this solar [system] was brought here, this health centre works every day and even at night. They don’t close. I even immunised my child from here, we are really happy about it,” Musoki says.

World Wide Fund for Nature Uganda Country Office (WWF-UCO) with the funding from the European Union (EU) is implementing the Scaling-up Rural Electrification Using Innovative Solar Photo Voltaic Distribution Model project in the Albertine Graben.

The project started in 2016 with the main objective of improving rural livelihoods and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions through increased access to clean and renewable sources of energy. The project will empower rural communities in the districts of Kasese, Arua, Masindi among others to adopt solar PV energy for use in households, public institutions like schools and health Centres which will improve the livelihoods of the communities.

In most parts of Uganda, hydro-electricity is yet to be extended, while in the areas that have it, the intended beneficiaries are still finding it very expensive. With solar energy, which becomes free once installed, many people are finding it a safer haven.
Dr at Isule Health Centre using the Microscope