This guest blog post comes from Rupal Ramesh Shah. Rupal is the Executive Director of Konbit Sante, a Maine-based non-profit helping support the development of a sustainable health system to meet the needs of the Cap-Haitien community. Rupal joined Konbit Sante in June 2020. In 2018 and 2019, she lived and worked in Haiti—first as a tuberculosis laboratory consultant at Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais, a Partners in Health hospital, and later at Saint Boniface Hospital as a grant manager. Prior to that, she worked at Boston Children’s Hospital as a quality improvement consultant and at Harvard University as a research assistant and laboratory manager. Rupal earned her BS degree in biology and BA degree in chemistry from Southern Wesleyan University, then obtained an MS degree in microbiology from Clemson University and an MPH degree from Boston University.
Utilizing Solar Power to Improve Quality of Patient Care
Solar power is an increasingly common alternative energy source for developing countries, especially in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Caribbean country of Haiti, which has two seasons (rainy and dry) has an average temperature that ranges from the high 70s F to the mid 80s F in the summer. Solar panels function very well in that environment as they collect a lot of solar energy throughout the year.
According to the World Bank, approximately 38% of Haitians are connected to the electrical grid supplied by the government. Many still experience frequent power outages that hinder their ability to work, cook, and even sleep. The rest of the country relies on generators or other alternative sources of power, including solar energy.
It likely comes as no surprise that Konbit Sante’s healthcare partners benefit tremendously from access to solar power. As a renewable energy source, solar energy offers more environment-friendly long-term options through systems that are relatively affordable with regular maintenance. So far we have worked alongside two of our healthcare partners, Jusitinien University Hospital (JUH) and Unite de Lutte pour la Sante (ULS) Health Center, to install solar panels at their facilities. Konbit Sante offered the partners support by way of fundraising, formulating the design and installation plans, and following through with maintenance plans that keep these systems running well for years to come.
The executive directors at both facilities report that having solar panels has made all the difference in providing continuous healthcare to patients. Dr. Mesadieu, executive director of ULS Health Center said that before the arrival of the solar panels they used generators as the primary source of power, which limited the time providers had to examine patients.
The solar array has allowed the health center to decrease the use of generators, reducing their reliance on diesel fuel purchases and ultimately reducing their costs.
They are also able to care for patients for extended periods of time. This installation would not have been possible without the generous financial support from an incredible donor and volunteer of Konbit Sante.
Dr. Jean-Geto Dube, executive director of JUH is thankful to organizations such as the Haitian Medical Association Abroad, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for providing funds and support to install solar panels in various services of the hospital. Due to their generosity, there are solar panels in the operating room as well as in the pediatrics, urology, internal medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology services. This year, Konbit Sante is working with USAID to provide infrastructure and engineering support to further improve the capacity of the solar panels in the pediatric services.
Konbit Sante is also looking forward to partnering with companies to encourage the installation of solar panels at our other partner facilities. Our newest initiative is with ReVision Energy, a renewable energy contracting company in Maine that provides a range of engineering, design, and installation services to homes, businesses, and more.
The company is raising funds to install solar panels at our partner hospital in Quartier Morin, Haitian Baptist Convention Hospital. We are grateful and excited to partner with a solar energy expert like ReVision Energy and look forward to all the incredible work we can do together in Haiti.
Stay tuned to hear more about our solar projects in the days to come and of course if you would like to support the collaborations, please make a donation on our website!
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