On Wednesday (29-Oct-14) as we left Dubai on the second leg of our return trip to Zambia, I swapped the SIM in my phone so that I would be online the moment we touched down in Lusaka.
Sure enough, shortly after the plane’s tyres hit the tarmac my phone sprang into action. What happened next was a bit of a shock. As my newsfeeds refreshed, the top item was the fact that Zambia’s President Sata had died.
As well as being very sad news for President Sata’s family and Zambia as a whole, it is bad timing for our 3-week visit. The country is now in official mourning until the funeral on 11-Nov. This means that all events with an element of ‘celebration’ have been cancelled out of respect for the late President. However, early impressions are that ‘work continues as normal’. We have already had four very productive meetings since our arrival.
When we left Zambia at the very end of Jun-14 we said we’d be back in October for 3 weeks or 3 years depending on whether we’d been successful in raising the funding for a national scale-up. Unfortunately, despite the compelling findings of the trial, we have not (yet) raised the funds we need for the national scale-up. So here we are, for just 3 weeks, funded by ColaLife supporters, to see the progress that has been made and help out where we can.
So what are the objectives of our visit and what do we hope to achieve?
- Over the summer, from the UK, we have been supporting our frontline partner in Zambia – Keepers Zambia Foundation – in their continuing work to promote Kit Yamoyo; in particular, in their bid for support from the local Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) programme. This bid was provisionally approved but things have stalled. We want to establish why and help unblock the bottleneck if we can.
- There is a shortage of Zinc in Zambia and the supplies that are available expire in Dec-14. This is a big issue for the production of Kit Yamoyo as Zinc is a key component. Pharmanova’s own Zinc has not yet been approved by ZAMRA (Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority). We want to seek a short term solution that would enable the production of Kit Yamoyo to continue until Pharmanova’s Zinc product is approved or Zinc from another source can be imported. The need to import has been a long-term barrier in Zambia’s fledgling pharmaceutical industry – and localisation is one of ColaLife’s key strategies.
- We want to see the first Flexi-pack and Screw-top formats of Kit Yamoyo come off the production line in Zambia.
- I want to gather material from the frontline for this blog. I particularly keen to get footage of the Android tablet-based field monitoring system in use. Before we left in Jun-14 the system was deployed and I’ve been watching the data come in and updating the forms used on the tablets from the UK. I now want to see them in use in the field.
- We want to follow-up interest from other local NGOs in using Kit Yamoyo in their child health programmes.
- We want to listen to everyone we talk to and learn!
In the meantime all the usual stuff will be going on with a particular focus on fundraising for the national scale-up.