Reducing Maternal and Infant Mortality with a Solar Suitcase: The Power to Save Lives

February 23, 2012 - 12:00pm

This seminar presents the progress to date of WE CARE Solar  (at, a Berkeley-based non-profit, in delivering ultra-efficient lighting, power for mobile communication, and medical equipment to maternal health clinics of the developing world.  In 2008 - 2009, when OB/GYN doctor Laura Stachel was studying clinical practices in an urban state hospital and surrounding clinics in Nigeria, she found a surprising result. Lack of reliable electricity was a major factor for material and infant mortality, even in grid connected buildings. Women with obstetrical complications were unable to obtain life-saving care, for lack of light and electricity-dependent equipment, despite the availability of trained medical personnel. Partnering with her husband Hal Aronson, they developed a technology (the Solar Suitcase) and an organization (WE CARE Solar) to combat the problem. In less than two years—based on MacArthur Foundation funded field research on suitcases installed in many developing countries (at,  and with national scale projects pending in Sierra Leone and Uganda—the work is poised to go global at large scale. Having benefited from early volunteer participation by LBNL staff, this seminar explores the possibility of a far deeper collaboration to transform a technology that has inspired widespread international attention (WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF) and hope, into one that can truly transform the lives of millions and establish a foundation for carbon-free electrification of the developing world. A recording of this seminar is available at:  

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