The solar solution that could improve maternity care anywhere reliable electricity isn't available
A lot of technologies come to be because somebody out in the world has a cool idea about some new thing they could do in the world. Not so for the WE CARE Solar Suitcase, which grew out of the acute need co-founder Dr. Laura Stachel saw for lighting to aid doctors trying to save women's lives during childbirth in Nigeria.
"The lack of reliable electricity and lighting completely imapirs the ability to deliver skilled emergency obstetric care. Midwives are trying to deliver babies by kerosene lantern or by candlelight," Stachel told me when I ran into her at the Aspen Ideas Festival. "I was in a situation in a large state hospital where the lights went out during a C-section and had to be completed in flashlight. I've even heard of people using the lights from their cell phones to try and finish surgeries."
When Stachel returned from Nigeria, she talked with her husband, Hal Aronson, an environmental sociologist and long-time solar tinkerer about building a solar solution for maternity clinics. What they came up with in 2009 -- and have improved over the last several years -- is the solar suitcase. It's now been deployed in nine countries with more clinics calling or emailing every day.