How Amref Health Africa Supporters are Enabling Innovation

Innovation is a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to our work with African communities to create lasting health change.  These two projects from the Amref Health Africa family showcase how contributions from supporters around the world are making innovation possible, and saving lives. 

A health worker in Uganda uses a Solar Suitcase to provide power

UGANDA: Solar Power

The Problem:

  • 16 women and 106 newborns die every day in Uganda in pregnancy and childbirth.

  • Remote communities have the highest rates of mother and newborn deaths.

  • Health facilities in remote areas are missing a vital ingredient for saving lives: electricity

The Innovation:

  • Make electricity available to 100 remote health facilities through the Solar Suitcase®, a self-contained solar power generator for lights, a laptop, a fetal monitor, and a mobile phone. 

  • Pair the Solar Suitcase® with the all of the essential ingredients for creating stronger health care systems: upgrading the skills of health workers; training community health workers so they reach out to parents about the importance of skilled health care for moms and babies; building community trust in health care.

The Results to Date: 100 Facilities

  • 54% of births now happen with the support of a skilled health worker, vs. 41% when the project started in 2012

  • Drop in newborn deaths to 16 in 2015, from 66 in 2012.  

Canadian Connection:

This project is made possible through financial support from Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Government of Canada. Grand Challenges supports bold ideas with big impact in global health.


Girls in Kenya celebrate an Alternative Rites of Passage

KENYA and TANZANIA :  Alternative Rites of Passage


About three million girls every year at are risk of undergoing Female Genital Mutilation (also known as Female Genital Cutting) in Africa, despite the practice being illegal in most countries. 

Kenya and Tanzania are no exception.  Maasai communities are among those who continue to practice FGM to mark a girl’s transition to womanhood. FGM can have severe health consequences, including hemorrhaging, shock, infertility, and complications during childbirth that can lead to the death of the baby or the mother.  

But, how to change a deeply entrenched traditional practice that holds so much value for communities?  This is where innovation comes in.  Rather than imposing change from the outside, Amref Health Africa has made it possible for Maasai communities themselves to reflect on the practice of FGM and to determine how girls could become women without cutting. The result? Alternative Rites of Passage. 

Community-created and driven, Alternative Rites of Passage mark this special time in a girl’s life with a public ceremony that includes elements of the traditional practice –dancing, singing, wise women lessons, speeches from elders –while forgoing FGM. Girls also learn about sexual and reproductive health, and talk about the value of going to school. 

Nearly 9,000 Maasai girls have experienced an Alternative Rite of Passage, without FGM, since Amref Health Africa supported the very first one in Kajiado, Kenya in 2009 –thanks to financial support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery. 

Read what girls, community leaders and circumcisers have to say about Alternative Rites of Passage.  


Source: Habari Newsletter, Published February 2016