October 11

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‘Cabin Crew: Prepare for Landing…’

Blog #1ava78481MAP 1

After more than nine months of thinking about Pulse, talking about Pulse, dreaming about Pulse, preparing and planning… the ‘all about Pulse’ becomes a reality.  It hits on that final flight, close to destination, when you hear the captain’s voice: ‘Cabin Crew: prepare for Landing’…

I land in Uganda a mild Sunday night, October 1st. As a true Brit would say: ‘pinch and a punch for the first of the month’ (to keep the witches away). All I have is 6 months’ worth of bags, a frazzled brain from the past few weeks of handing over the role I am familiar with (to the best team, if I may say); having packed up my life again, yet feeling surprisingly calm and ready.

Prepared?  I am landing in a new country, where I don’t know anyone and have a vague understanding of what the next few months will look like.  Nevertheless, the essentials are there: some supply chain skills, an open mind, curiosity for what is to come, trust in myself and those that have encouraged and supported me in getting here (you know who you are, THANK YOU!) as well as key ingredients: a touch of courage and a pinch of adventurousness.

Prepared or not, I have landed: Kampala, capital of Uganda, I am here now!  Already some conversations on the flight were inspiring; what is it about Africa that attracts people who want to make a world of good?  Volunteers, doctors, engineers, nurses… a variety of skilled individuals who have one thing in common, they share a passion and a purpose: to help others.

After a few hours’ sleep (under a mosquito net), it is day 1 in the office and I am being introduced to my new colleagues and office for the next six months: CHAI (Clinton Health Access Initiative) has an instant good energy about it; their mission (now mine too) is to save lives by helping people gain access to essential medicines and Healthcare.  As an entrepreneurial, mission driven organisation, CHAI works in partnership with governments to bring transformational change, proud of their people who innovate and challenge the status quo with strong commitment to the urgency of saving lives.

I am already humbled and in awe of this team; every conversation has the patient in the centre and utmost priority. True professionals of all backgrounds (from investment banking consultants, to doctors, biologists…you name it) all focused on not just making a difference, but making it a sustainable impactful change.

I am to spend most of my time working with a newly created cancer team on improving access both in the public and private sector, partnering with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Ugandan Cancer Institute (UCI). In addition, I will also support with their supply chain strategy in other areas (HIV, Vaccines, Integrated Child Health).

I am lost for words, all I can say in my first attempt at explaining my first 3 days Kampala with CHAI is ‘WOW’, I don’t think I have ever learnt so much in less than 70 hours, been so moved by the work already done by just a small team, and been so fascinated by the energy, passion and knowledge of those around me.  I hope I can make more sense in what is to come in my next blog.  Watch this space.