Hope for mums giving birth by torchlight

Work by MAF Technologies has made power more reliable for an isolated PNG community hospital.

A Story by MAF Technologies, Kowara Bell.

Judith Charles, a local midwife at Telefomin Rural Hospital, knows that babies can arrive at any time of the day or night – and her job is so much harder when the lights go out. During the hours of darkness, the rural health workers and patients rely on the glow of mobile phones and torches.

But a team from MAF Technologies has been able to provide a consistent power supply that will help the hospital to keep the lights on until a permanent solution is put in place.

Judith says the work will make a difference to the wellbeing of mothers and newborns because midwives will no longer have to operate with a phone between their teeth.

“With no proper lighting in the delivery room at night, we usually rely on phone torches to help us deliver babies,” Judith said.

“This can be with the assistance of medical staff where one holds the torch light while the other delivers the baby. But, when there is no assistance, you have no choice but to hold the phone in your mouth while you deliver a baby.

“This is a rural hospital, and we have to operate in any way as possible even when there is no electricity or water, and we are doing it with our hearts to save lives. So, we improvise to save people.”

The hospital’s system failed almost seven years ago and when MAF Technologies was able to investigate the issue, it was discovered that the panels needed a complete replacement.

But Nason Lukio, the MAF Technologies officer working on the site, was able to fix a temporary patch that connects the backup generator to the solar battery, which should help run the lights for time being, especially during the night.

“It has been a struggle for the nurses in the hospital especially during the night. Now that their solar system has been restored, they can be able to work without difficulties in the night to help the patients, especially the pregnant mothers during childbirth,” Nason said.

Satie Salukeng, the hospital’s Finance and Administration Manager said the hospital now has adequate lighting, which is not fully functional, but will help address the welfare of hospital workers and patients.

“At least, we have ample lighting, which is crucial to the safety and hygiene of the medical staff and patients; given that we used to operate in the dark with phone torches, having even a few hours of light in the hospital at night is a step forward,” Satie said.

The rural hospital in Sandaun Province serves approximately 700 to 800 patients every month. It covers a combined population in the Telefomin district of over 60,000 people.

MAF Technologies remains optimistic in establishing sustainable solar energy in remote areas by collaborating with individuals and organisations to provide technical support in terms of installations and repair of solar systems.

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