Turns out I had no problem staying busy for my time on site without the research team.
I got consultation from one of CLI’s resident obstetricians, who offered great feedback including the ever-looming “does the District Health Office know about this?” question. This, along with advice from my advisor, and 2014 conversations where I inquired about the need to involve the govt public health orgs, led to a field trip yesterday. After several stops at various DHO buildings and lots of help from a CLI surgeon/administrator, we had a parking lot meeting with Malawi’s Coordinator for Safe Motherhood. It actually left me feeling much more accomplished than the term ‘parking lot meeting’ implies.
I also found out that the CLI Maternal and Neonatal Mortality Committee I was proposing to be established already existed. !
And, that the Ministry of Health has, in fact, updated their maternal death audits recently. Which means changes for ours—but good ones, since the additions they made align with a portion of the information we included in ours.
Finally, I put together a ‘sustainability report’ that outlines what project management and resource alignment needs to happen to ensure that this whole thing doesn’t lose steam when I leave. This involved calculating what the project costs and how long my fundraising could sustain it.
Good news: The money I fundraised (plus some that I saved), is enough to support the maternal and neonatal mortality surveillance for 18 more months!
This is a significant amount of time. Long enough to plan for 12 and 18 month evaluations to see if the information collected is valuable enough to absorb the future costs into the regular expenses of the research program and continue with the surveillance. Since I’ll need to do a ‘final project’ to complete my MPH in a year, this could create a perfect opportunity for me to get some experience in public health program evaluation, which I’ve always had an interest in.
I spent my last day in the research office sending many emails of terrifying lengths, like a mom leaving for an extended vacation and needing to make sure you know how to set the alarm right and what to do in case you set it off anyway and also that the key to the shed for watering the garden (the half that needs watering, NOT the other half that gets all the rainwater from the gutters) is behind that lawn chair with the… you get the picture.
I’ve agreed to remain a resource for the team to be sure that the foundation for the system is strong. The CLI staff will take over all routine aspects of the system such as volunteer recruitment, training and kit distribution, case auditing and reporting.
It was a crazy last half of my visit, (especially with a safari weekend squeezed in the middle!) but I’m very proud of what I’m leaving the team with as I head back to the states. Thanks, again, to all of the moral and financial support from friends and family.
Zikomo kwambiri, and see you soon Ohio!