A Winning Strategy: Investing in Local Heroines

By Karl Hofmann, President & CEO, PSI

When you invest in local heroines, women win.

Despite all the systemic challenges women and children face around the world, we’ve learned that investing in local heroines who provide education and resources can help tear down barriers and save lives.

Here is an impact primer that shows how investing in local heroines helps PSI get results for women and children.

Local heroines trained in community health services save children’s lives.In many countries, mothers are unable to access health care for their children to treat preventable but deadly diseases like malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea. We can shift that equation by deploying local health workers. In Cameroon, 48% of children received diarrhea treatment in areas served by community health workers vs. 7% of children in other areas with no community health workers.

Local heroines are effective champions for social change.There is often stigma associated with family planning activities. In Zimbabwe, where women are embarrassed to purchase female condoms, local heroines like hairdresser Tears Wenzira are distributing them in beauty salons. In fact, more than one million female condoms are distributed through this network of 2,500 hairdressers across the country.

Local heroines help keep mothers alive during childbirth.In the next 24 hours, 931 women will die worldwide from preventable pregnancy-related causes. In Pakistan, more than three-quarters of births take place at home, which is high-risk for maternal mortality. A pilot voucher program – where trained outreach workers recruit pregnant women from low-income households to receive subsidized reproductive health services from private health providers – increased prenatal clinic care by 16%, health care-facility based deliveries by 20% and postnatal care by 35%.

As you can see, PSI is committed to measuring our impact. And we’ve learned that investing in local heroines provides extraordinary returns on your investment.

Will you invest in a local heroine?

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The Daily Impact: UN and World Bank Heads to Visit the Sahel

November 4, 2013

World Bank President Jim Kim is joining UN SG Ban on a tour of the Sahel region of West Africa this week.

This is the second joint trip by Dr. Kim and Mr. Ban to Africa. They first traveled together to the Great Lakes region in May 2013 to support regional efforts to create lasting security and development in this vulnerable part of the continent.

Dr. Kim and Mr. Ban will be joined by Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; Mr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank; and Mr. Andris Piebalgs, European Union Commissioner for Development.

The delegation will visit Mali on November 5th, Niger on November 6th and Burkina Faso and Chad on November 7th.

Africa’s Sahel Region is home to more than 80 million people. The region faces grave threats to its security and development, exacerbated by decades-long, regional economic, political, demographic and ecological stresses. Instability in the Sahel is caused by recurring pressures of rapid population growth, extreme climate, weak institutions and a lack of state presence in many remote areas.

“The people of the Sahel have lived for decades with threats to their survival, battered by conflicts, political instability and a harsh and unpredictable environment. Now is the time to help them build more stable lives, with better access to quality health care and education, as well as good jobs, especially for women and young people,” said Dr. Kim.

Mr. Ban said a United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel puts a priority on governance, security and resilience.

“First, the crisis in Mali has underscored the need to do more than fight fires in the region – we need to clear away the problems that could ignite conflict and instability. Second, we must take a regional approach. The challenges in the Sahel respect no borders – neither should our solutions. More than eleven million people are food insecure. Five million children under five are at risk of acute malnutrition. The region is awash in weapons, and highly vulnerable to terrorist and criminal networks. The Sahel has suffered its third major drought in less than a decade, and the effects of global warming are being felt as never before. These challenges cannot be overcome by any government or organization alone. The issues are connected and we need an approach that connects our efforts,” said the UN’s Ban.

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USAID Success Story: Making the most at-risk populations visible in gender and violence reduction initiatives

Ed note. Friday, Nov 1 marks the 52nd birthday of the US Agency for International Development. We are commentating and celebrating USAID with a series of posts looking at the different ways USAID and its partners are successfully contributing to positive health outcomes around the world.  Happy Birthday, USAID! 

In the Central American region, most efforts to fight gender-based violence (GBV) are focused on women, and there has been little effort to apply existing legislation and policy specifically to most at-risk populations (MARPs) such as female sex workers (FSW), men who have sex with other men (MSM), and transgender women (TW). Guatemala is not the exception.

In order to address this issue, the USAID Combination Prevention Program for HIV began an effort in Guatemala to conform a consortium to make MARPs visible in all efforts related to reducing violence, sexual exploitation and trafficking in persons (VET).

As a result of the consortium’s efforts and results, in March of 2012, the Government of Guatemala (GoG) published Decree 1-2012 that established an official Technical Multi-sectorial Commission on Preventing Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking among MARPs. The Commission works to promote the coordination of the agencies involved directly or indirectly in the definition and implementation of national level actions to reduce the rates of crime related to sexual violence, exploitation and trafficking in FSW, MSM and TW, and the strengthening of key actors in prevention and care for the victims of these crimes.

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Dear Ambassador Goosby: Thank You!

Ed note: The US Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Eric Goosby steps down today. PSI joins 34 organizations thanking Ambassador Goosby for his bold leadership.  

Dear Eric:

As members of the Global AIDS Policy Partnership who are committed to a robust and evidence-based U.S. response to the global AIDS pandemic, we would like to express our gratitude for your years of service leading the PEPFAR program. Under your leadership, PEPFAR has made unprecedented progress in expanding the reach of antiretroviral treatment, interventions to prevent vertical HIV transmission, medical male circumcision and other lifesaving services to millions in developing countries. From programs to respond to women and girls including gender-based violence to sound public health guidance to address the needs of men who have sex with men and injection drug users living with or at risk for HIV infection, your office has embraced an HIV response grounded in science and a human rights framework. Your recent guidance to PEPFAR field staff to ensure the inclusion of civil society representation in the country planning process represents an essential step in ensuring that country responses reflect community needs. We also thank you for your work on behalf of the Global Fund and your efforts to enhance the engagement of affected countries to respond to their own epidemics. Thanks to your leadership, the PEPFAR program is better positioned than ever before to help deliver on the promise of an AIDS-free generation.

You have garnered respect from both sides of the aisle in Congress. We applaud the effective relationships you have developed with White House staff and your willingness to seek our input on a range of issues. The PEPFAR Blueprint for an AIDS-free Generation will stand as an important part of your legacy.

We know this job has not been easy one. The interminable travel, the need to be responsive to numerous and disparate stakeholders, and the task of addressing huge unmet needs for services with dwindling resources are just a few of the many challenges you have faced. Your strategic, thoughtful and humane leadership in the face of these challenges has been appreciated.

We extend our best wishes to you in your future endeavors and thank you for leaving the PEPFAR program on solid footing to continue and ultimately to finish the critical, lifesaving work ahead.


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USAID Success Story: Combination Prevention for HIV in Central America and Mexico

Ed note. Friday, Nov 1 marks the 52nd birthday of the US Agency for International Development. We are commentating and celebrating USAID with a series of posts looking at the different ways USAID and its partners are successfully contributing to positive health outcomes around the world.  Happy Birthday, USAID! 

In October of 2010, the Pan American Social Marketing Organization (PASMO), began the implementation of the USAID Combination Prevention Program for HIV in Central America. As part of initial efforts, PASMO defined an essential or minimum package of behavioral, biomedical and complementary (or structural) services to be offered to most at-risk populations in the region. Specifically, this package was defined per population most affected by HIV in the region: female sex workers (FSW), men who have sex with men (MSM), people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA), transgender women (TW), and men at-risk for HIV.

Under the combination prevention approach, PASMO and other Program partners worked intensively to provide each individual of the target populations with at least 3 behavioral interventions, including behavior change communication participative methodologies and access to condoms and lubricants, at least one effective biomedical service such as HIV testing and counseling (HTC) or screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and referral to complementary or structural services such as family planning for FSW, treatment for alcohol and drug abuse, violence prevention services, human rights and legal services, support groups for PLHA, among others

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A Global Health Scary Story

PSI has HIV programs in over 60 countries around the world. Interventions, which include social marketing of HIV products and services and targeted HIV communication, are based upon a commitment to produce measurable health impact and an emphasis upon rigorous research and evaluation.

Although condom social marketing and targeted communication remain cornerstones of PSI’s work to address the HIV pandemic, country programs implement an increasingly comprehensive range of interventions in response to the changing needs of specific country contexts and populations. PSI is a leader in HIV prevention initiatives including condom social marketing, HIV counseling and testing, and is increasingly implementing innovations such as male circumcision, targeted communication for concurrent sexual partnerships, and injection drug use interventions.

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What Do You Think Were the Top Global Health Moments in 2013?

The year is coming to an end, and we need your help.

There are just about two months left, but 2013 was yet another important year for global health.  From advances toward a Malaria vaccine to a progress toward setting the post 2015 development agenda  — and everything in between — there have been some remarkable achievements this year.

The next issue of PSI Global Health Impact will take a look back at the moments that mattered in 2013. We are compiling a top 10 list for global health – milestones, achievements and advances reached this year.

What has stood out to you in 2013? Share your ideas with us to build a list of the most remarkable moments from the past year. You can post suggestions on our Facebook page or Tweet at @PSIimpact using #GlobalHealth13.

Once we have our list assembled, we will ask thought leaders and experts to comment on each of the listed items in the next issue of PSI Global Health Impact. 

Like any good Listicle, the wider we cast our net for ideas the better.

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Daily Impact: New TB Testing Shows Mixed Results

October 31, 2013 A faster and more sophisticated TB test is showing mixed results as it is being rolled out. While diagnosis is faster and more accurate, treatment outcomes are not necessarily better: Now researchers from Cape Town University have looked at what actually happened when the system was installed in primary health care TB […]

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“Motherhood in Childhood”–New UNFPA Report

Sixteen-year-old Usha Yadab, class leader for Choose Your Future, a UNFPA-supported programme in Nepal that teaches girls about health issues and encourages the development of basic life skills.  © UNFPA/William Ryan

The UN Population Fund released its flagship annual State of the World’s Population report. This year’s report focuses on adolescent pregnancy. The report finds that every year 7.3 million girls under 18 give birth, and of these 7.3 million births, 2 million are to girls 14 or younger. The report, Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy shows how this young cohort suffers the gravest long-term health and social consequences from pregnancy, including high rates of maternal death and obstetric fistula.

This video offers some key insights into the challenges of combating adolescent pregnancy and the promising future that adolescent girls can have when they have access to family planning.

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