In the West, when a power failure occurs, our hospitals continue to function, both in terms of lighting and the various medical devices (X-rays, scanners, MRIs, etc.). Now imagine a world in which hospitals have no access to power at all, where women give birth in the dark, surgeons have to operate blindly and it is impossible to perform an X-ray or ultrasound. This world is not a fiction. Nor does it date back to a distant time. It is real and still exists today. This was the case of the health centre in Makoutam, a small Cameroonian village in the Western region. That was its case. Until today…
Its director explains that the medical team carries out 12 or 13 deliveries a month, including several night deliveries, which therefore take place in total darkness. Without a refrigerator, it is also impossible to keep vaccines and certain other products that are supposed to be kept cool. Apart from the lack of energy, the clinic is far from the good conditions we know in the West. Patients are hospitalised in small rooms, women give birth on a table and patients do not receive any treatment until they have paid.
After Michel, our technical manager, had analysed the best place to install the photovoltaic panels, our two technicians, Jaurès and Guildas, climbed onto the sloping corrugated iron roof of the dispensary, under the amazed eyes of the public who had remained below.
With the solar panels installed, Jaurès and Guildas climbed down from the roof and went to the centre’s pharmacy to attach the SolarlyBox to the wall, place the battery underneath it and make the connections. We then installed eight lamps in the rooms deemed to be priorities by the director of the clinic, focusing on the delivery room and the operating theatre
Thanks to everyone’s participation, the centre is lit up. The medical staff is already rushing to the SolarlyBox to plug in mobile phones.
Once the work is done, it is time for speeches, in accordance with Cameroonian culture. We were thanked by the director of the dispensary, the representative of the village chief and the development delegate, who concluded his speech with the phrase “Who says thank you asks for more”. An implicit way of announcing a future collaboration?