[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The overseas development arm of the Anglican Church of Canada is helping to save the lives of new-born babies in Mozambique through the provision of “solar suitcases.” One nurse in the country reported using the light from a mobile phone held by her mouth to deliver babies born at night in health centres that did not have electricity. The solar suitcases contain 80 watts solar panels, a 12 Ah lithium ferrous phosphate battery, medical lights, battery chargers and a foetal Doppler.

The Primates’ World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) are providing the solar suitcases as part of a five-year programme part-funded by the Canadian government’s Global Affairs Canada unit to provide maternal and child health support to 350 villages in Burundi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The director of the development partnership program for PWRDF, Zaida Bastos, visited Mozambique recently to provide training in the use of solar suitcases and saw first-hand the dangers facing new mothers in the country. A young woman had gone into labour and the baby had started to emerge, but became stuck because his mother was too exhausted to push, she told the Anglican Journal. When the baby finally came fully out, he was blue and unresponsive.

“I could see in the faces of the mother, the nurse and the grandmother that they had given up,” Bastos said. “It was like, that’s it.” But she called for the paediatrician, who was helping to install the solar panels on the clinic’s roof, to help.

“He worked for 40 minutes trying to resuscitate the baby . . . and at the end of the 40 minutes – that was an eternity – finally the baby began to breathe and a little cry came, and we were all exulting,” she told the Anglican Journal.

By the time they left, the baby seemed normal and was being nursed by his mother, she said.