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Shining A Light On 10,000 Lives: Solar Power Enhances Healthcare In Rural Papua New Guinea

In northwest of Papua New Guinea a lifeline now lights steadily. The EU-STREIT PNG Programme's solar power initiative at the Ossima sub-health centre has illuminated not just the building, but the lives of 10,000 villagers who now have access to essential healthcare at all hours.

Vanimo, Papua New Guinea – In the heart of West Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, lies Ossima Village, a place where for years, the darkness of night brought challenges for the community, particularly at the local sub-health centre, which serves over 10,000 people from Ossima and the surrounding villages. However, a recent intervention by the EU-STREIT PNG Programme, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has improved this village, lighting up lives.

The Ossima sub-health centre, a vital lifeline for this large rural population, received a new solar power energy solution from the EU-STREIT PNG Programme. This upgrade which includes a 10 kW Solar Photovoltaic mini-grid system, has enabled round-the-clock lighting, allowing

health workers to provide continuous care, even during the darkest hours. The impact of this development is nothing short of remarkable, as it has elevated healthcare delivery in the area.

"Good lighting in the night means we can serve patients, including emergency cases, more efficiently and with better care compared to using torches and mobile phone lights in the past," shares Doris Nukum a dedicated health worker at the Ossima sub-health centre. "Before, patients sometimes had to bring their own lights."

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This simple yet profound change has brought numerous benefits to the community. With reliable lighting, the sub-health centre can now keep patients with severe conditions in the inpatient ward overnight for monitoring and treatment without hesitation. The staff, now able to see clearly, can perform their tasks carefully and with confidence after hours.

One of the most significant improvements is in maternal care. "Deliveries for expecting mothers in the late hours are performed efficiently. Babies are examined well, and other procedures, including care for mothers after delivery, are carried out smoothly," explains Doris. "Babies born under good bright light make everyone happy."

The bright lights have also boosted the morale of the health workers. They feel more capable and motivated to deliver other essential services. "We feel happy. We can now deliver better services deliver like World Baby Clinic, Immunization, screening for leprosy and skin diseases to our community" says Fiona Eleiya a young health worker assisting Doris at the Ossima sub-health centre, with a smile.

A heartwarming example of the life-saving impact of this solar power system occurred recently. A mother who arrived for delivery around 3:00am in the morning. The lights enable the nurses to handle the delivery successfully. Both mother and baby were examined well and discharged the next day.

This story offers just a glimpse into the benefits of reliable lighting at the Ossima sub-health center. The community feels more secure, knowing that medical help is available at all hours, a stark contrast to the days of relying on torches and mobile phone lights.

Now, thanks to the EU-STREIT PNG Programme, the Ossima sub-health center stands as an example of hope, showcasing the positive change that sustainable energy solutions can bring to remote and underserved areas. As the sun sets over Ossima Village, the lights at the sub-health center continue to shine brightly, illuminating the path to better health and a brighter future.

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