Sunday was the first day of spring, and here in Nukus it's celebrated as the new year. I'm looking forward to seeing blossoms on trees, green instead of grey concrete. Sometimes this place reminds me too much of a Dostoevsky novel - not that I've ever read one, but with the old Russian cars, grey overcast days, and sharp looking police officers in green uniforms with red trim, I have a good idea. I'm settling into my work too.
Part of my job is to increase the use of data, the other half is to decrease the burden of data collected. We have 413 patients currently on therapy. Since 2003 we have enrolled just over 1200 patients. Though roughly 2/3 of our patients had successful outcomes, nearly a quarter have defaulted, or stopped taking their medication for over two months. These data, along with others, help doctors, nurses and managers monitor the program, see how we are doing. It's my job to put these statistics together, which means sitting in front of a computer for most of the day, but sometimes I get out. Last week we presented our monthly statistics at the weekly doctors meetings. The entire conversation, questions and answers, were in Russian, but I had a translator. My technique is to lean into her so I can hear what
she says while still look at the person speaking. Though my nonverbal response are not on cue, like a broadcast with a 3-second delay, I try to stay as engaged as possible. It was the first time these data were presented. The previous epidemiologist managed to get the reports translated to Russian. I'm not sure what happened before that. I have to keep reminding myself it's a long process, that patience can be as valuable in the field as any other skill.
Today is World TB Day, I'm not sure what I'll do, though there is a long string of data requests sitting on my desk. It would be nice to attend one of the celebrations planned at one of the hospitals. Statistics are a poor proxy for real people.