Italian Rotary Club powers Balaka hospital with solar energy

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Installation of solar panels in progress

An Italian Rotary Club in partnership with the Rotary Club of Blantyre has installed solar power at Comfort Community Hospital in Balaka which will see the hospital being independent of electricity for the next 25 years.

The project by the Rotary Club Milano of Italy with technical and extra funding from Seva Africa has cost 62,000 Euros (about K68 million) and has been implemented with the help of an Italian Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Orrizonte Malawi ODV and the Andiamo Youth Cooperative Trust (AYCT) in Balaka.

Technicians from Seva Africa flew into the country to install the 88 solar panels, three power inverters and 7 capacitors which have been divided in three modules to generate 25 kilowatts of power per hour, making the hospital run 24 hours with uninterrupted power supply.

Comfort Community Hospital Acting Hospital Administrator Foster Usale said in an interview yesterday that with the new solar power, the hospital would be saving about K900,000 which they were using to run a generator in times of national power failure.

“We are grateful for this gesture because as a hospital we could not function properly with frequent electricity blackouts especially in our maternity wing. We are now guaranteed constant power supply for the next 25 years,” said Usale.

He said the hospital has 66 beds for pediatric and maternity wings but handles almost 77,000 patients a year including out-patients.

President of Orrizonte Malawi ODV Emmanuel Todeschini who has been instrumental in getting support to the community hospital said Orizzonte Malawi, apart from the solar power project also deals with a lot of expenses to manage the hospital especially in the rainy season like medicines mainly to treat malaria and pneumonia.

Solar panels at Comfort Community Hospital

“I would like to thank the Rotary Club Milano, the Rotary Club of Blantyre and Seva Africa for the funding and technical expertise to power this hospital with solar power. The hospital will now be operating without problems since it is assured of constant power supply and more community members will be served here without any problems,” said Todeschini.

Rotary Club Milano Project Coordinator Alessandro Coggi said his club aims to define and develop a project that can be shared with other Clubs which represents a concrete collective commitment to the implementation of some specific objectives of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

“This why we partnered with our colleagues at Rotary Club of Blantyre so that we could bring sustainable power supply to the Comfort Community Hospital in Balaka,” said Coggi.

Rotary Club of Blantyre Projects Chairman Dango Mkandawire described the project as a major milestone in health care especially to the people of Balaka.

“We are very pleased with the development and the number of lives it will positively affect as this centre serves 70,000 patients and 2,000 births a year, so this is a major milestone,” said Mkandawire.

The hospital, apart from the pediatric and maternity wards, has an operation theatre, an analysis lab, and is completing the setup of a service of radiology and imaging.

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