Solar Power Helping Save Children’s Lives In Haiti

Solar powered refrigerators are playing an important role in improving the health of children in Haiti.
Rural Haiti lacks a reliable supply of electricity, making it difficult to keep crucial vaccines that protect children against diseases such as polio cool. Gas refrigerators have been used, but the logistics of transporting heavy gas cylinders over significant distances present other problems. Like electricity, gas it seems is also an unreliable power source in rural Haiti.
UNICEF has installed solar-powered refrigerators at 153 medical centers in the nation to support UNICEF’s efforts to immunize Haiti’s children against preventable diseases. Communities with the refrigerators installed report they now never run out of vaccine.

Vaccine spoilage is not only dangerous, but expensive. UNICEF is the largest buyer of vaccines in the world, last year purchasing nearly two billion doses to support immunization programmes in more than 100 countries. Each dose that spoils could represent the death of the child unable to receive it. UNICEF says immunisation avoids an estimated two to three million deaths every year in all age groups from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and measles.
“Along with the affordable technology of solar refrigerators, the vaccines are an extremely cost-effective way to support better health in communities like Rossignol – protecting a child for life against measles, for example, costs less than US$1,” says UNICEF.
With refrigerators and freezers generally being power hungry appliances, not so long ago the cost of solar panels made the rollout of such programs very limited; eating into funding and more reliant on equipment donations. With the price of modules having dropped by more than 70% in recent years; solar is now playing an increasingly important role in impoverished and emerging nations – not just for improving comfort and convenience; but also in saving lives.