Zimbabwe: First Lady Lights Up Health Institutions

14 February 2020

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, who is the country's Health Ambassador, is championing the cause of rural women to access better medical services through partnerships and synergies.

The First Lady yesterday launched the Light Every Birth initiative at Beatrice Rural Hospital in a move aimed to providing light for childbirth nationwide through promoting solar energy at local health institutions and Africa at large.

She partnered the United States-based We Care Solar to provide clean renewable energy for safe child birth in Zimbabwe.

The First Lady is committed to transforming the country's health institutions by providing solar systems to improve maternal health care. She has a passion for the empowerment of the nation and to ensure that everyone leads a health life.

The 25-bed Beatrice Rural Hospital serves a catchment area with a population of 31 088.

The hospital serves 10 446 women of child-bearing age and expects 1 244 birth per year.

Launching the Light Every Birth, the First Lady said there was need to provide solar power to health institutions in the country as an alternative.

Amai Mnangagwa has sourced solar kits from her partners, We Care Solar, to provide clean reliable energy.

The solar suitcases which will provide a safe and sustainable alternative to candles and paraffin lantern for urban and rural facilities, contain led task lights, rechargeable head lamps, phone chargers and fetal heart rate monitor with rechargeable batteries.

We Care Solar pledged to support the First Lady's initiative of healthy childbirth with affordable, accessible and clean solar lighting and electricity.

"Light Every Birth brings together national and local leaders, corporations, foundations and NGOs to collaborate on an innovative programme to improving maternal and neonatal care," said Amai Mnangagwa.

She commented the co-founders of We Care Solar, Dr Laura Stachel and her husband, for partnering her to spearhead the Light Every Birth initiative to light health institutions.

"I want to thank you and your husband on behalf of Government and the Ministry of Health and Child Care for supporting the initiative to provide renewable energy to most health institutions in the country.

"He is your husband with a woman's heart. He has a soft heart to assist the needy. Please convey my sincere gratitude to him. The organisation is working closely with the Government to light health institutions. We need to promote the use of solar energy at our health institutions.

"Expecting mothers should seek assistance at hospitals during delivery period and we look forward to the day when mothers will no longer need to pack candles as part of their birthing kits and all health workers have the power to save lives."

Amai Mnangagwa said the initiative was expected to cover 100 health centres countrywide to ensure safety delivery to expecting mothers.

The First Lady believes that every mother has the right to deliver safely in a health centre equipped with light and power.

Amai Mnangagwa, who is also vice-president of the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) in recognition of her philanthropic work and assistance to the less-privileged in Zimbabwe, has appealed to We Care Solar to partner with other First Ladies across Africa by providing solar kits to improve the health delivery in their respective countries.

She called upon the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology to equip students at institutions with knowledge on how to manufacture solar systems.

"We need to equip students at tertiary institutions to learn how to manufacture solar systems and repair solar kits to solve electricity challenges facing the country," Amai Mnangagwa.

We Care Solar donated 200 solar kits to complement the First Lady's effort to light hospitals and clinics of her choice across the country.

Dr Stachel said her organisation will continue to work with the First Lady.

"We Care Solar signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, pledging to work together to 'Light Every Birth'," she said.

"We handed over 200 solar kits to the First Lady, Amai Mnangagwa to donate to health institutions of her choice.

"We will also provide an additional 600 solar suitcases to health centres across the country lacking reliable electricity this year.

"We are dedicated to bring in clean energy to health centres. We want to light every birth. We are thrilled that the Government of Zimbabwe is partnering with us to honour all families by having safe delivery in health centres to help the country. We are thrilled to be lighting every birth.

"With lighting every birth, every woman has the right to safe delivery, every health facility is entitled to electricity and solar power is the sustainable solution to the global problem. We are working with the Government to ensure that every mother can have a safe delivery."

Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr John Mangwiro, who accompanied the First Lady, said he was delighted to be supporting this noble cause which seeks to improve the quality of service provided to women during child birth.

"We are grateful to We Care Solar for all the installations done to date in our rural health facilities," he said.

"This programme is timely as the issue of access to electricity in Zimbabwe is critical. The Ministry of Health pledges our continued support to ensuring sustainable use of the solar suitcases."

Beatrice Rural Hospital acting sister-in-charge, Evershine Mutanga said the installation of the solar systems at the hospital will ease power outages during child birth.

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