The Safe Birth and Healthy Homes project was started in early 2019 in order to improve maternal and infant health outcomes in catchment areas served by public health facilities, through promoting increased attended births in the areas. The project was co-developed by Let There Be Light International (LTBLI) and Solar Health Uganda, a subsidiary of KACCAD.
The project was conceived as a strategy to address the concern of low maternal and child health outcomes in Uganda, mainly attributed to low levels of attended births, whereby a large number of mothers are still opting to go and give birth with the help of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs). This issue pre-exposes them to risks associated with births done without the help of qualified health workers. The project was therefore intended to mitigate this concern in order to incentivize pregnant women to undergo attended births at health clinics.
The project has three main components:
- Raising awareness on energy poverty issues and educating communities about benefits of using clean lighting energy.
- Health clinic solar electrification – in which solar systems for basic lighting and powering low power devices are installed on to health clinics lacking electricity
- Solar light donation – in which each mother who goes and gives birth at a health clinic/project site is given a solar light free of charge on being discharged from the maternity ward.
Under the project, each mother gets only one solar light; a mother who has been referred to another health facility and gives birth from there later comes back to the health facility point of referral to receive her solar light; and if the mother dies in the course of delivery, the caretaker of the child is the one given the solar light.
The project addresses the healthy homes aspect through the family accessing and using clean light. The mother uses the solar light to have light when nursing her baby at night; the children use it when doing their academic work at night in their respective homes; and the entire family is now at reduced risk of fire burns, a factor that perhaps encourages them to even sleep under their bed nets.
During the solar distribution, some intake data is collected from the mother for use as a baseline. Then, a follow up survey is administered to the mother when she comes back to the health clinic for her child’s 10th week vaccination schedule.
The data includes demographics of the mother, maternity parameters, household lighting energy type, weekly household income, weekly household expenditure on lighting, fire and smoke related health risks; and a consent by the mother to use of her photograph for project promotional purposes and attendance of the follow up survey on the 10th week vaccination schedule of her child.
Currently, the project is being implemented in 4 districts – Kyankwanzi, Mubende, Sironko and Amolatar; and in 6 health clinics – Butemba HCIII, Kikonda HCIII, Kikolimbo HCIII, St Mary's HC, Butawata HCIII and Biko HCIII.