Third Day’s the Charm

We had a rather comical arrival in Zambia. I carried my 3 foot tall giraffe, Murphy (don’t ask), wrapped in bubble wrap, and he actually flew in the cockpit on our flight there. Elena accidentally brought her scissors and pocket-knife on the plane. And it was only after we had landed that we learned of the US$50 visa fee per person, for which we of course were completely unprepared. I looked and felt very much like a completely inexperienced, rookie traveler.

By the end of our first day, I was very discouraged. A whole day with no meetings, no potential meetings, and no leads to potential meetings. I was no better off than I was two months ago. By the end of the second day, I started thinking about throwing in the towel and going home early. I dreaded writing a post of my failure. Oh, how quickly things change.

Day 3. Today started out as disappointing as the rest of them. Then just before lunch, we met with a representative from the University of Zambia Research Ethics Committee. Although the study had been expedited, the reviewers apparently couldn’t come to consensus, so it had to be referred to the full board. We were assured that the study would be reviewed by the board this afternoon, and it would likely get a conditional approval that might request a few issues to be addressed, but could then be approved quickly after they are addressed. Interesting that the study has been approved by the BU IRB, the Lesotho Research Ethics Committee, and the Swaziland Scientific Ethics Committee, but there are issues with it now. My hope is that it’s something fairly minor that I can respond to by the end of the day and get it all sorted out rather quickly. We hear tomorrow. Pray hard!

Then we had a fantastic meeting with my knight in shining armor from the Ministry of Health (MOH), who was so clearly an answer to prayer. His guidance is what I am sure will ensure the success of our work here. He completely understands the sense of urgency around the data collection, and he will help to facilitate the necessary approvals. He provided us with a list of names and numbers for our key informants and names and numbers for key contacts at a great representative mix of hospitals in Lusaka and Southern Provinces. I still have to worry about the timing of the approvals, so I am far from being in the clear, but I’ve got renewed hope. Even moreso, I know that we HAVE to be successful because we owe it to our MOH hero to produce something that will be useful to him and to the Ministry.

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