“A lack of power was responsible for a lot of deaths in the first few days [after the earthquake],” wrote PIH Executive Director Ophelia Dahl in a recent message.
With electricity knocked out around the country, surgeons were forced to operate on patients using flashlights. Laboratory and diagnostic equipment were rendered useless. Electric water pumps were nonfunctional. Gas generators helped fill the gap. But finding fuel quickly became difficult, and gas that could be found carried price tags as high as $20 a gallon in the days following the earthquake. Many of our clinics powered by gas generators came uncomfortably close to running out of fuel.
As PIH begins to move from short-term relief efforts towards long-term recovery and rebuilding work, finding sustainable ways to power hospitals will become a priority.
Since 2006, PIH has been working in partnership with the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) to provide solar power to hospitals in Rwanda, Lesotho, and most recently, in Haiti.
Last fall, SELF installed a 10,000 watt solar panel system on the roof of the public hospital in Boucan Carre, where PIH operates in partnership with the Ministry of Health. While hospitals on the grid in the capital city (roughly 3 hours by car from Boucan Carre) were forced to care for patients by candlelight, the solar panels at Boucan Carre ensured that electricity was one less thing the staff had to worry about as they began treating an influx of earthquake victims.
Boucan Carre was just the first of ten sites in Haiti that SELF is planning to work with PIH to help power. Following the earthquake, having the sun power medical facilities will be one of the goals for helping Haiti to build back better. Help support this initiative.
Read more about SELF’s partnership with PIH in Haiti.