Thursday, March 18, 2010

Positive Change: WE CARE Solar

As important as it is to complain; as important as it is to bemoan; as important as it is to angst about our ever-darkening future, so important is it also to focus on the tiny flickering lights of hope. Even if these gestures are wasteful, inelegant, or ultimately futile, nothing useful comes of deriding or compromising them.

This is the Traveling Suitcase from WE CARE Solar (Women's Emergency Communication and Reliable Electricity). Observers in northern Nigeria witnessed appalling hospital conditions in which electricity occasionally cut out--often in the middle of medical procedures, forcing doctors to perform a C-section by flashlight--and brainstormed this device.

From the Web site:
Our emergency obstetric photovoltaic system powers the following:
  • Overhead surgical lighting in areas of critical need such as the operating room and labor and delivery
  • Mobile telecommunications between hospital staff and on-call physicians
  • Existing on-site surgical equipment that is currently underutilized
  • A blood bank refrigerator that utilizes DC electicity
  • Battery chargers that power LED headlamps for night duty workers
This setup is highly in demand, and the locations where they've tested it have begged to be allowed to retain the device. Imagine how poor the infrastructure would have to be, for a jury-rigged solution like this to represent a dramatic improvement? Even a simple task like retrieving another doctor was complicated by requiring a foot-runner to physically search the facility to locate the doctor and carry the request, rather than the amenities we enjoy such as an overhead PA system or cell phones. And even the addition of simple LED headlamps for the physicians was a substantial improvement over their prior working conditions!

I cannot relate to those people who would sneer at this and insist we wait for a "more elegant" solution, or who dismiss this as posturing by imperialist Western saviors suffering from Liberal white guilt. I can't relate to such churlish spirits. I'm only encouraged by a news story such as this.

No comments: