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Health worker attending to a patient in the health centre
Photo by Matt Painter

While the lights remain on at Mougulu’s health centre, villagers know they have access to help and healing.

A Story by MAF Technologies, Kowara Bell

Having reliable solar electricity is literally a matter of life and death for the people of Mougulu, a remote community in the foothills of Mt Bosavi in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province.

Missionary Sally Lloyd remembers a time when a critically ill child, who was admitted to the health centre and was relying on an oxygen concentrator, tragically passed away due to the lack of a power supply. 

Sally, the daughter of missionary couple Tom and Salome Hoey, and her husband Ian have taken on her parents' roles in Mougulu, focusing on humanitarian work that promotes and values community development and the surrounding villages.

Their hydroelectric system was damaged by an earthquake several years ago, so in the 2020 the Hoeys turned to CRMF at the time, which is now MAF Technologies, for a solution.

“CRMF assisted mum and dad in putting that solar on as one of their final ministries here, and it really helped the health centre,” Sally said.

“And now the solar power is almost running 24 hours a day, powering our vaccine fridges, and providing power for the oxygen concentrators, so everything is run off the power.”

 

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An Aerial view of the Mogulu health centre
Photo by Matt Painter
An Aerial view of the Mogulu health centre showing the Solar panels that were installed on the roof.

Tony Aima, a local health worker in Mougulu, explained that the solar system is useful especially at night, to oversee individuals who have been bitten by snakes and, especially, mothers who are giving birth at night.


“Previously, we used torchlights to attend to patients who came in at night, and it was quite difficult to attend to them. But when solar power arrived, it greatly improved our work and lighting system, saving many lives,” Tony said.

Pipiali Falope, a mother of six from a nearby village, expressed her appreciation and sense of certainty that she and her children are getting proper medical care thanks to the availability of 24-hour lighting in the health centre.

“If one of my children becomes ill especially at nighttime, I know for certain there is light at the health centre, therefore, I bring them over to be treated,” she said.

“So far, I have never encountered any severe health issues because of the health centre's availability at night.”

Lelegeme, another mother from the nearby Oglubabim village shares her experience of giving birth to her first child in the heart of the jungle because there was no adequate medical facility available that time.

‘’But some years after, I was grateful and privileged to be able to deliver my other two children safely in a health centre that has proper lighting system that runs throughout the night," Lelegeme said.

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Community Health worker, Tony Aima attending a patient at the Mougulu health centre
Photo by Matt, Painter
Commnuity Health Worker, Tony Aima attending to a patient at the Mougulu health centre

Mougulu Health Centre also acts as a referral centre for many surrounding aid posts and many people by overseeing referrals and providing drugs and other medical necessities.

Sally stressed that many times solar has been a lifesaving power source to have in Mougulu.

‘’It's pretty amazing really, that we have that,” she added.

“And that has been a key to the success at Mougulu Health Centre, and that is to have good health workers, a good health facility, and then have power to be able to maintain all those machines and everything else.”

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Sally Lloyd at Mougulu station
A Photo by MAF Tech
Missionary, Sally Lloyd, at Mougulu station.

MAF Technologies General Manager Bryan Mathews said the project was very challenging since the installation happened during the outbreak of Covid-19 when most services were ceased.

“We went through a lot of hurdles just to get in the batteries and panels into Mougulu, eventually we managed to get the equipment in, and the outcome of the installation was very successful,’’ he said.

“We placed a large power capacity in the health centre so that in the future if they wish to construct extensions or add new medical equipment, the power can accommodate that.

"In the end, they have a 24/7 clean green energy that is not causing pollution, plus it has cut a lot of fuel cost for the generator since the cost of transporting fuel into Mougulu is high.”

 

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