Results tagged “Partners In Health” from Bob Freling's Solar Blog

To support the long-term rebuilding of Haiti, Grammy award-winning Reggae band Steel Pulse has donated 100% of the proceeds from sales of their new single Hold On [4 Haiti] to the Solar Electric Light Fund and our “Solar Health Care Partnership” with Partners In Health.

You can learn more about our project at, or watch Paul Farmer explain what we’re doing:

The money will be used to solar electrify PIH clinics in Haiti (see previous story with Larry Hagman).

Steel Pulse have been true to their roots for over thirty-five years. One of Bob Marley’s favorites, the band has maintained a sense of fierce integrity as it strives to get the message of love and unity across to all people. VIBE magazine has called them “the best live reggae band on earth.” British-born Jamaicans, Steel Pulse started their career opening for the Clash, the Sex Pistols and Generation X. They even played at President Clinton’s inaugural celebration - the only reggae band to do so. They are working on a new album and DVD and are currently on tour.

Donate and download the song below, or by visiting >>

Don’t forget to tell your friends!


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There’s a sweet irony watching long-time SELF board member Larry Hagman turn the world renown oil tycoon J.R. Ewing into a conscientious solar executive while retaining his famously wicked laugh.

“Shine, baby, shine,” chuckles a fiendish Hagman as he coins the new energy mantra for our time in a series of advertisements for SolarWorld. He’s playing off “Drill, baby, drill” of course, but few can argue with his message.

Serving on SELF’s board since 2000, Larry walks the talk. In 2003, he installed what is surely the largest residential solar system in the United States, if not the world, at his hilltop home in Ojai, Calif., north of LA. The combined arrays on his property total about 90 kilowatts. 

Now with his catalytic involvement in SolarWorld’s advertising campaign, he has leveraged his passion for solar energy to help SELF as well. Through its Solar2World donation program to aid communities in developing regions, SolarWorld donated solar panels to SELF for a Partners In Health (PIH) clinic in Haiti in 2009. After an earthquake devastated Haiti on Jan. 12, SELF was among nonprofit aid groups that SolarWorld agreed to supply with even bigger panel donations to ease the Haiti crisis. Thanks to Larry’s efforts, SolarWorld’s generous donation of 100KW of solar panels will power five more clinics in Haiti. For SELF, this is an integral part of our overall solar healthcare partnership with Partners in Health (PIH).

Thank you, SolarWorld, and thank you Larry.

The New York Times covered the story here.

Update: in June SELF completed solar installations at two more of the clinics operated by PIH’s Haitian counterpart, Zanmi Lasante (ZL).  And the solar industry, too, deserves tremendous credit for stepping up to help. The 5.8 kW solar-diesel hybrid system at the Hinche clinic was made possible by generous in-kind donations from the Solar Liberty Foundation and Sunsense Solar. At Cerca la Source, SELF technicians installed a 10 kW system with panels donated from Q-Cells SE, and money donated by Good Energies Foundation helped fund the balance of materials. At the Cerca la Source clinic, one of the key goals was to improve security by using outdoor night lighting throughout the grounds. We’re finding, though, that solar power gives many other benefits to these impoverished communities, sometimes unexpected. Within minutes of the first lights coming on, our project director saw a small boy standing underneath them, reading a book!

A lack of power was responsible for a lot of deaths in the first few days [after the earthquake],” writes Partners In Health (PIH) Executive Director Ophelia Dahl in a recent message.

She explains:

With electricity knocked out around Haiti, surgeons were forced to operate on patients using flashlights. Laboratory and diagnostic equipment were rendered useless. Electric water pumps were nonfunctional. Gas generators helped fill the gap. But finding fuel quickly became difficult, and gas that could be found carried price tags as high as $20 a gallon in the days following the earthquake.  Many of our clinics powered by gas generators came uncomfortably close to running out of fuel.

As PIH begins to move from short-term relief efforts towards long-term recovery and rebuilding work, finding sustainable ways to power hospitals will become a priority.

Since 2006, Partners In Health has been working in partnership with the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) to provide solar power to hospitals in Rwanda, Lesotho, and most recently, in Haiti.


The first time I met Paul Farmer, he said something to the effect of…“Bob, I’m thrilled about bringing solar power to Rwanda, but what about Haiti?  When are you guys going to help us in Haiti?”. 

I have the Clinton Foundation, especially Edwin Macharia, to thank for the introduction to Partners In Health.  I met Edwin at the inaugural Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in September 2005.  Edwin, a brilliant and hard-working Kenyan who at the time worked for the Clinton Foundation, approached me at the conference and asked if SELF could help provide reliable power for a series of rural clinics in Tanzania. That conversation led to a collaboration between SELF and the Clinton Foundation to solar electrify 4 rural health clinics in the Masasi District of southern Tanzania under the auspices of the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI).

Since the Clinton Foundation was also supporting the work of Partners In Health in Rwanda, a program which had just been launched in the spring of 2005, Macharia encouraged me to also talk with PIH about the possibility of using solar energy to power the 5 rural health centers in eastern Rwanda that were being operated by Partners In Health.

Several months later I traveled to PIH’s headquarters in Boston to meet with PIH Executive Director Ophelia Dahl and several of her colleagues. I was accompanied by Jeff Lahl, SELF’s Project Director. Jeff and I went over the pros and cons of solar vs. diesel for powering rural health centers, and explained that while a photovoltaic solution would be more expensive upfront, it would save considerable money over time.  Furthermore, we argued, solar would be more sustainable and reliable than diesel. Shortly thereafter, PIH committed to working with SELF to solar electrify their 5 rural health centers in Rwanda.

In July 2006 I visited Rwanda for the first time, just as the first of our solar installations for PIH was getting underway. My trip coincided with President Clinton’s visit to Rwanda.  While he was visiting PIH’s hospital in Rwinkwavu, Jeff Lahl and I had an opportunity to brief President Clinton on SELF’s solar solution for Partners In Health. 


After the success of Rwanda, PIH decided to “go solar” across the board – at each and every one of their 40+ health centers in Rwanda, Malawi, Lesotho, and Haiti.  

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, we have been requested by PIH to accelerate our timeline for bringing solar power to all of their sites in Haiti.  Diesel fuel is already in short supply and will likely become even more difficult to obtain as time goes by.  Solar can serve as a foundation for a robust and sustainable healthcare infrastructure in Haiti.

Last week I wrote a short article at Renewable Energy World on what we in the renewable energy community can do to help Haiti. Here’s what I said about our immediate plans:

renewworld.gifThe Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is already using the sun to power health care in Haiti and is primed to expand its work with Partners In Health (PIH), the NGO co-founded by Dr. Paul Farmer. When the earthquake struck on January 12, SELF had 13 kW of photovoltaic (PV) panels in a warehouse in Haiti, waiting to be installed in two PIH clinics next month.  The plan now is to divert those 13 kW to emergency field hospitals that are being set up near Port-au-Prince, the area hardest hit by the quake.

This, by the way, is just the beginning. Even before the earthquake, we were executing on our plan:

We have worked with PIH since 2006 to electrify health clinics in Africa and, just five months ago, electrified a clinic for the organization in Haiti’s Boucan Carre, three hours from Port-au-Prince.  This is the first of 10 PIH centers we plan to electrify in Haiti through the SELF-PIH Solar Health Care Partnership.
Now, we see a much greater need and of course we feel a much greater sense of urgency to help the community at large as well. We are now working on a far bigger blueprint to help Haiti back on its feet, and will announce details as these plans become field initiatives.

Last year, SELF created its Array of Life program to partner with companies donating solar equipment and/or funding to support this work.  Sunpower, Dow Corning, Good Energies, SolarWorld, Solar Liberty, Bosch Solar, Solar Outdoor Lighting and Trojan Batteries are among those already stepping forward.  We need more to join us.

My hope is that you won’t allow the tragedy in Haiti to pass us by without getting involved. And as I said in the article, let’s rebuild Haiti, power it with renewable energy and show the world that hope for a sustainable planet can be a reality.  Amidst the global financial crisis, staggering global rates of unemployment and failed Copenhagen talks, the renewable energy industry remains a beacon of hope for the future. 

Together we can help Haiti light the way.

Stand With Haiti

As the world mobilizes to respond to the crisis in Haiti, our partner, Partners In Health (PIH), is on the ground making arrangements to set up a field hospital. SELF is diverting 13 kW of solar panels to the temporary facility to provide electricity for critical lighting and emergency medical treatment. However, much more help is needed.

PIH headquarters reports that:

Over the past 18 hours, PIH staff in Boston and Haiti have been working to collect as much information as possible about the conditions on the ground, the relief efforts taking shape, and all relevant logistics issues in order to respond efficiently and effectively to the most urgent needs in the field. At the moment, PIH’s Chief Medical Officer is on her way to Haiti, where she will meet with [their] leadership and head physicians, who are already working to ensure PIH’s coordinated relief efforts leveraging the skills of more than 120 doctors and nearly 500 nurses and nursing assistants who work at [PIH’s] sites.

If you wish to contribute to the relief effort in Haiti, we encourage you to support PIH’s work on the ground for immediate assistance to the survivors.

Donate to PIH >>

Paul Farmer and Bob in Haiti

While now is the time to support disaster relief, SELF will continue to work with PIH and the people of Haiti in the reconstruction and continuing economic development of their communities.

Formulated by the United Nations as a blueprint for meeting the needs of the world’s poorest citizens, the Millennium Development Goals, or “MDGs” as they’re referred to, set forth a bold and comprehensive prescription for eradicating extreme poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, and protecting the environment.

Astonishingly, access to modern energy has not been included by the United Nations as one of the Millennium Development Goals, despite the fact that, without an energy component, none of the MDGs are ultimately achievable.

Didn't they know that Energy is a Human Right?

They should've asked my friend Dr. Paul Farmer (Partners in Health).

He'd tell them that a reliable energy source is essential for the operation of hospitals and clinics.

With the exception of Egypt and South Africa, 85 percent of Africa’s 680 million people live in rural areas without electricity.

Diesel generators are the traditional solution — but hardly the best. Diesel is expensive and polluting, including greenhouse gases. And generator breakdowns are common, with replacement parts typically miles and days away.

Faced with a choice between solar and diesel at five rural health clinics in eastern Rwanda, Partners In Health took the solar path, collaborating with SELF on systems for the communities of Mulindi, Rusumo, Rukira, Nyarabuye, and Kirehe. The systems are solar- diesel hybrid systems that generate 90 percent or more of their power from the sun, with diesel generators for back-up during prolonged heavy usage, or in periods of rain.

Back to Dr. Farmer.  Here's what he said about the impact of solar power on the operations of his clinics:

"You can't do this without electricity. Because you're not going to have an operation room. You're not going to have a laboratory. You're not going to see people at night..."

More on Partners In Health and SELF here»