As so often in life, one has to be prepared to accept that things do not develop as well and as quickly as planned. The old adage saying that patience is a virtue particularly applies to this past quarter. Despite the progress we made during the previous quarter, which included the draft of a new memorandum of understanding with the Vietnamese government and the submission of our application for the permit of operations, over the past three months we had to face a few setbacks and delays, which we hope will sort themselves out in the first quarter of the new year.
The first setback is that we still have not received the permit from the Vietnamese government. As the government had just revised its laws on the presence of international NGOs in Vietnam in July 2012, the procedures and requirements had to undergo steady additional changes. As such, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued additional guidelines on the required documentation in November, according to which we were required to submit further documentation such as my official, notarized and consulate-legalized police record, which had not been required previously. Obtaining these documents naturally required more time and another round of document submission and review.
The good news is that several sources within the government had assured me that these additional documents requested will be the final step prior to the issuance of the permit in January or February. We will keep our fingers crossed in the hopes of providing you our first report of actual operations in the next progress report.
During the past quarter we also had the chance to work closely with the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV). The collaboration consisted of the development and submission of a large grant application to one of the major funding programs in the sector called TB Reach. While we worked hard for several weeks on the application and received strong feedback from several sources regarding our output, the application unfortunately was unsuccessful and funding was denied. However, the silver lining is that we were able to develop a strong working relationship with MCNV, which we will want to explore further in the future.
Lastly, during the last quarter I was also granted the opportunity to present our work and anticipated plans for Vietnam to the staff of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit. To my pleasant surprise, the presentation was very well attended with almost 70 attendees. The meeting lasted 1.5 hours including an extended questions and answer session. Overall, the information presented was very well received and was met with universal support from the attendees.
I sincerely hope that 2013 will bring about the long anticipated start of our operations in Vietnam and the begin of cost-effective case detection and TB treatment for Vietnamese patients. I would also like to thank you for your ongoing interest and support. Please continue to spread the word to family and friends about TB and about our project. We appreciate any help or support you can provide in our continued battle against TB. In the meantime, I hope you had a peaceful holiday season and a happy start into the new year.
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