Saving Lives with Solar

Earlier this year SELF continued its work in the remote mountain villages of Lesotho(pronounced “Leh-sue-too”), bringing solar electricity to seven Partners In Health (PIH)  clinics serving a population ravaged by HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB). The rugged, windswept beauty of this small country belies a cruel statistic: a staggering 1 in 4 adults is HIV-positive.

Thanks to solar power, five of the clinics now have the energy they need to operate their own x-ray lab. Chest x-rays are necessary to successfully diagnose TB in patients who are HIV-positive. All the clinics also now have the lighting physicians need to ensure proper examinations, diagnosis and treatment.

A newly admitted patient awaits treatment.

This additional capacity provides a huge life-saving benefit. Prior to the solar power installations, doctors had to send patients to the district hospital — usually several hours away — for a chest x-ray.  This involved paying for transport, paying for the x-ray and requiring that the patient return again to the clinic to see the doctor with the results of the x-ray. Because patients often live many hours walk from the clinic this took a lot of time and money, and also increased danger of the patient transmitting TB to other people during transport, at the hospital, etc.

Villagers often walk many hours to reach the PIH clinics.

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