No WASH: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene’s Growth Dividend

By Genevieve Kelly, Malaria & Child Survival, PSI

20121024_psi_unilever_handwashing_600pxSometimes, 1 + 1 = 3. When every child has access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and proper nutrition, the effects are multiplied.  A recent study provides evidence of the link between the presence of WASH interventions and increased height in children.

In August, the Cochrane Review released a comprehensive report that reviewed 14 separate studies of children aged 5 years and younger living in middle and low-income countries.  Data collected on over 30,000 children found that children with access to clean water and soap were, on average, 0.5cm taller than their peers without.  The findings are preliminary, but promising.

The review is the first of its kind to look beyond the impact of WASH on diarrheal incidence and to assess the longer-term effects of inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene on child nutrition and growth.


How health impact metrics contribute to global health program decisions

By Karl Hofmann, President and CEO of PSI

Measurement and accountability for programmatic results are increasingly important in the work that we and other publicly funded organizations do.  We love measurement, so we welcome this.

I want to highlight a recent special supplement in the journal BMC Public Health that PSI sponsored and published with Pathfinder, MSI, and UCSF, Use of Health Impact Metrics for Programmatic Decision Making in Global Health.

The supplement includes articles by all four organizations, which describe approaches for estimating the health impact of programs, and the equity and breadth of our reach. Featured metrics are used at the programmatic level for accountability, decision-making, priority setting and intervention design.

Patricia H David, Director of Research and Metrics at Pathfinder International, explains the importance of metrics and the motivation for the supplement in an introduction for the supplement.

Click here to read the supplement or see the list of articles with links at the end of the post.

Please share your thoughts by commenting on the supplement and articles below or, even better, contacting to schedule a meeting or presentation at your agency, and engage with our authors in person.

New Report: Evidence for equity, quality, impact, and cost effectiveness of Social Franchising

By Kim Longfield, Director, Research & Metrics

Myanmar Digest CoverIn collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Johns Hopkins University, PSI has launched a new report: “Private Sector Healthcare in Myanmar: Evidence from the ‘Sun’ Social Franchise.” The report outlines how PSI reaches those most in need, especially in rural Myanmar, where healthcare options are limited or nonexistent.

For low-income populations, especially in Myanmar, private providers are the main source of medical care. Social franchising uses commercial franchising strategies to respond to the health needs of these communities. It builds on the existing private sector infrastructure and strengthens the capacity of private clinics, pharmacies, and community health workers  to deliver quality services.

PSI is one of the largest providers of health products and services in Myanmar, in large part, due to its social franchising network of private healthcare providers. PSI/Myanmar’s Sun Quality network is comprised of Sun Quality Health (SQH), which serves urban and peri-urban areas, and Sun Primary Health (SPH), which serves rural regions. For providers, this model of healthcare offers trainings, subsidized products, quality assurance, common branding, and demand generation activities. For the people of Myanmar, it expands their choice of qualified providers who can address their most pressing health needs and are accessible in their communities.


Globalizing the Internet for Health Prevention

By Abraar Karan

To Save the Children, UK “Mummy Blogger” Journeys to AfricaImagine your 7-year-old son’s face, abdomen, and legs begin to mysteriously swell one morning. Your initial reaction as a parent would likely be to worry first. However, your second instinct is probably to rush to your computer and search the internet for what might be going on.

This is easy enough for the roughly 72% of people in America who have a computer with internet access in their homes.

Now, imagine you are no longer in America but in rural Mozambique. And, unfortunately, you are not part of the 3% of the population that has access to the internet. Even if you were able to get online, let’s say that you are also not part of the 47% of the population that is literate, rather the majority that would have no way of navigating a website like WebMD where most of us in America would within minutes find a list of possible causes and could begin to guess that a doctor’s visit was necessary.

Spending a day on the pediatric ward in a public hospital in Mozambique, I began to think about what it is like to be one of the many mothers accompanying their children for treatment of what are often life-threatening conditions. For the most part, the women have no idea what is going on with their sons and daughters, and the cases arrive at the hospital in extremely advanced states, almost the opposite of the US where anxious parents regularly bring their children in for relatively harmless coughs and colds. I saw several swollen faces, abdomens, and legs that day, many of them cases of childhood nephrotic syndrome, a condition that responds well to steroid treatment but can be dangerous if left untreated for too long.

Cross Post: We Need the Private Sector

By Christopher Purdy, Executive Vice President of DKT International. This originally appeared on The Broker blog.

If we want to increase jobs and reduce poverty, we must emphasize markets and the private sector, and include them in the post-2015 development discussion. Failure to engage the private sector in development is like trying to swim from New York to Amsterdam; you can do it but everyone else will have already arrived before you.

There is little doubt about the influence the private sector has on economies and societies. According to the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the flow of foreign private investment into the developing world dwarfs official development assistance (ODA) by about 4 to 1, even in the aftermath of the global economic recession.

Like the public and NGO sectors, the private sector is far from perfect. And the underlying motive of generating profits does not always align well with humanitarian principles of development. However, there are an equal number of positive examples of how the private sector is helping to improve lives in the developing world. Indeed, broad development is severely impeded without active participation from a vibrant private sector. InterAction, the US consortium of international NGOs, echoed this sentiment in a 2011 policy paper which encouraged the US government and other donors to engage private sector actors not only in fundraising but also in the innovation and creativity that can promote better development.


Can we measure advocacy efforts?

RulerPSI uses the DALY as a way of showing how our work is improving lives. It is a valuable tool for us because it shows progress and whether programs are actually working. It is valuable for our funders and supporters because we can communicate success in a simple set of numbers.

We are wondering if there is something similar for advocacy. PSI and other NGOs actively support policies that benefit the lives of the world’s poor. When you get a policy changed (like us seat belt laws) you positively affect millions of lives.

But there is no tool that counts that. For organizations and governments that are measurement focused are we dis-incentivizing advocacy efforts that could have great health impact for funding only things that can be easily measured.

We are turning to you for ideas. What is already out there and what can be done to measure advocacy efforts in a way that provide feedbacks and show how advocacy can have widespread impact?

Share your thoughts below.

Reader Survey: how can we better communicate with you?

As a member of the PSI community, you have a lot to tell us. Your thoughts and opinions are tremendously valuable and we’d like to hear about why PSI is important to you.

Today we are inviting you to take a special community survey. Our goal is to be able to communicate better with supporters like you.

The survey should take no more than 7 to 10 minutes to complete. Please be assured that your name and contact information will never be sold, shared or traded with any other organization. No solicitations will result from your participation in this research.

This survey will only be open for a short period of time. Complete the survey below or go here to fill it out on SurveyMonkey. (Note: If you received the survey via email, please complete it there.)

It is because of committed supporters like you that PSI is able to carry out its mission to improve the health of poor and vulnerable people in the developing world.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.

The years of healthy life you helped us save in 2012

We are proud to share with you PSI’s 2012 health impact, derived from products and services provided across 69 countries last year. These interventions represent 35.2 million years of healthy life that, without your support, would have been lost to death and disability.


PSI addresses serious challenges like lack of family planning, HIV and AIDS, barriers to maternal health, and the greatest threats to children under five, including malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition. You have helped us empower millions of people to lead healthy lives.

Click here to read the report

Weigh In: Is overhead a good or bad measure of an effective charity?

A group of the leading charity watchdogs and raters want donors to stop worrying so much about overhead rates. They do not dismiss the importance of tracking how much charities spend on things other than programs, rather they say that numbers do not tell the whole story. Overhead, is another way of characterizing what it costs for a charity to run from day to day.

Are overheads a good or bad measure of an effective charity?

We want to know what you think. Read their letter below and share your thoughts in the comments section of this post or on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #OverheadMyth.

To the Donors of America:

We write to correct a misconception about what matters when deciding which charity to support.

The percent of charity expenses that go to administrative and fundraising costs—commonly referred to as “overhead”—is a poor measure of a charity’s performance.

We ask you to pay attention to other factors of nonprofit performance: transparency, governance, leadership, and results. For years, each of our organizations has been working to increase the depth and breadth of the information we provide to donors in these areas so as to provide a much fuller picture of a charity’s performance.

Alice Lin Fabiano: To Reach Scale, Build Trust

By Alice Lin Fabiano, Senior Program Officer and Advisor at Johnson & Johnson

Frozan Admadi places her ear on one end of a pinard horn. She holds the other end of the stethoscope on the belly of her pregnant client, smiling as she hears the fetus’ steady heartbeat. Frozan is the only midwife in Marabad, a rural community in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, which is in the southern part of the country and has a population of 17,000.

“There was no full-time midwife here before me,” she recalls. “Some used to come to the village for one or two weeks at a time.”

As one of 3,000 newly trained midwives in Afghanistan, Frozan travels to the homes of pregnant women in her community to check on their health. It’s a routine with a single purpose – to ensure a healthy and safe delivery.

Frozan checks their blood pressure for any indications of preeclampsia, a potentially fatal pregnancy-related hypertensive disorder. She educates her clients about the signs of labor, provides iron pills to ward off anemia, and helps craft birth plans to get to a health facility in time.

“Many women are unable to get to the hospital if they were having problems. I try and treat them in the health center and encourage them to come there to give birth. If I think they are going to have a complicated delivery, I refer them to the provincial hospital so they get there in time.”