General Life Update (because it's been too long since I last wrote)
Lots of things have been happening around here lately! In order to cover something in depth, I'm going to do a shorter, general update today and get back to a longer post, hopefully in the next week or so.
First, I am happy to report I have been awarded a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Abroad grant for this research! I found out last week and couldn't be more thrilled and grateful for the money and recognition. I am incredibly thankful for all my letter writers, proof readers, moral supporters and idea exchangers! Hopefully the money will start within the next month.
Second of all, for anyone who knows about my travails at the office of the Tanzania National Institutes for Medical Research, you will know how happy I am to have gotten the news today that my ethical clearance renewal certificate has finally been signed and is ready for pick up. This means, hopefully, that I won't have to deal with them again for quite some time! Hallelujah! They are my favorite bureaucracy to hate but I think they are trying to get themselves in order and I've seen some improvements in their communication and website of late. If anyone reading this ever needs advice on working with them to conduct medical research in Tanzania, let me know, I'm kind of an expert these days.
Third, one of my very good friends here and his wife just welcomed into this world a beautiful baby boy on Saturday. I'm so happy for them! Their three year old daughter seems to be excited about her role as a big sister, though she was dismayed when she was told she couldn't try to teach the baby how to read just yet.
I just finished writing the draft of a chapter for a textbook on maternal mortality which is set to come out next year sometime. I'm waiting for comments from the editor and reviewers but am very happy to have that off the docket for the moment. I am still working with the Medical Officer In Charge of the hospital to write a second chapter for the same book, which presents three case studies of maternal deaths that have occurred in the last year and offers some of our insights about how we might have prevented these deaths and what we need in the region in order to prevent similar deaths in the future.
Since finishing the book chapter, I am back to collecting data again full force. Lots of good conversations in the last week and I've nailed down a research assistant who is diligently working to help me transcribe hours of recorded meetings, group discussions, and interviews. We're planning on going to some villages to talk with peripheral health care providers and community members starting within the next month. We have to get some trips in before the rains start again in November!
My favorite unfolding line of inquiry at the moment has to do with uniforms. The maternity staff has been reprimanded by the hospital Patron (who is in charge of all the nurses) for not wearing proper uniforms. I think this deserves its own post so look for that later. It might not sound exciting but I think it actually encapsulates many of the challenges the nurses face, speaks to issues of provider morale and motivation, and the disconnect between maternity and the hospital administration. So, I'll leave you with that until next time! Back to the emails and transcriptions!