Schneider Electric works to improve maternal healthcare in Kisii

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Schneider Electric and its local partner PowerPoint Systems have installed an 8.7KW solar and storage microgrid at the Matongo Birthing Hospital in Kisii, ensuring that the region’s women have access to the facility both day and night, as the hospital enjoys reduced energy costs.

This project was supported by the global non-profit solar developer United Solar Initiative and Curamericas Global, who is a long-term nonprofit healthcare partner of the Kisii County Ministry of Health, to ensure that the facility has access to a sustainable and reliable source of power 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The system provides backup power to critical loads at the birthing center which incurs constant power outages. Since going online in August of 2020, the facility has saved money each month in their energy costs from the utility which allow more hospital supplies to be purchased. Most importantly though, the facility has seen a drastic increase in the number of births that the doctors at the Matongo Clinic are now supporting from 5 deliveries per month to now averaging 20 deliveries per month, 60% of which occur at night.

“From powering the most important devices during childbirth, to providing cost savings for the Matongo Clinic, there are so many benefits that clean and renewable energy brings to communities” said Samantha Childress, a member of United Solar Initiative’s Board of Directors. “United Solar Initiative is proud to have built a team of strong partners that are helping to realize our mission of empowering communities and improving lives through solar energy.”

Kisii region’s maternal and child health indicators are below Kenya’s national average, with one in three women giving birth at home and in less sanitary conditions. Curamericas Global and the Kisii Department of Health began project KIKOP with the aim of improving access to safe, sanitary maternity facilities in the region and one of the actions they took was to ensure reliable access to energy for healthcare facilities, which had to deal with irregular power supplies.

“A safe reliable source of power is essential for how this facility runs, and we’re now able to offer services whenever it is needed,” said Andrew Herrera, Executive Director, Curamericas Global. “Prior to this installation, we many mothers giving birth in the dark due to the unreliability of the main power from the Grid. Since the installation of the System in August 2020, we’ve had a surge in deliveries with the facility recording over 20 deliveries per month, an increase of 400% recorded in prior months. Expecting mothers are reassured that we can take care of them at any time, either day or night and our staff are able to do their jobs with a focus on quality and excellence.”

The solar microgrid and power back-up systems provide an alternative energy source for the facility’s maternity area, its vaccine refrigerators, and lighting using lead-acid batteries as a storage device. The batteries are charged during the day by the power generated from the solar panels, supplying the hospital with electricity at night. This solution guarantees power for the facility, 24 hours a day regardless of local power outages.

“Safe, reliable electricity is paramount to medical services, especially for childbirth, and infant and maternal mortality rates drop significantly when women have access to guaranteed, uninterrupted healthcare services,” said Carol Koech, Country President, Schneider Electric Kenya.

“Solar power solutions can also address both power and water shortages, particularly in rural communities, supporting long-term development and growth. We’re proud to be able to play a role in this project which will literally save lives and transform the health of so many Kenyan women and children.”

Other microgrid projects are planned for healthcare facilities in Kisii, ensuring that the region’s women will now have access to these essential services

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