A team of researchers mapped over 9,800 tweets with sexual and drug-related themes and found that their locations were a good predictor for established statistics on HIV-prevalence. “Because of the growing amount of social media data, researchers and public health departments will soon be able to build upon these methods to more accurately monitor and detect health behaviors and disease outbreaks.”
Administrator Raj Shah this week helped deliver the first liter of clean drinking water under a Global Development Alliance (GDA) between the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Procter & Gamble (P&G) to improve health in Myanmar.
Over the next two years, USAID and P&G will make joint investments of at least $2 million on health projects aimed at providing clean drinking water through provision of P&G Purifier of Water packets, promoting better hygiene behaviors;,and building capability to deliver improved health services to mothers and children. These projects will be implemented on the ground by PSI.
On February 5, 2014, the first sale of Super Bebe happened in Mozambique, after awaiting approval from the Ministry of Health. As advertised in the commercial above, Super Bebe is a simple, once-a-day nutritional supplement in the form of a powder that can be sprinkled onto any baby food mothers are already using.
Exciting change is happening for healthcare in developing countries.
Start-ups, corporations, NGOs, and governments are finding new and innovative ways to increase access to health services and products. Some of the developments may seem mundane, but they are changing the game in remarkable ways.
Highlights: 2013, a new report from the Center for Health Market Innovations (CHMI), identifies emerging healthcare practices, analyzes the effectiveness of these practices, and spotlights programs improving their ability to serve poor communities. The report features 81 programs working to make quality healthcare delivered by private organizations affordable and accessible to the world’s poor.
Programs by PSI in India, Angola, Somaliland and South Sudan are held up as some of the examples in the report. In India, PSI is using ICTs to support women’s health.
Just over a third of the programs CHMI profiles in India indicate using technology as a core part of their models. Of the 200 programs targeting India’s rural population, many use technology in interesting new ways, including to facilitate remote diagnosis of rural patients, make health records at peripheral clinics available to central health providers, and allow providers and patients to access health education and awareness information. Saadhan, a PSI-affiliated program, runs a helpline that provides counseling and information services to improve women’s health. Saadhan also tracks clients with software so its counselors can follow-up with repeated callers.
Distribution is another important area. Coming up with an innovative solution to a problem like malaria is a big advance, but it has to get out to people in hard-to-reach parts of the world. That is where PSI steps in to work with the supply chain.
Organizations are using alternative means of transportation to get medicines to remote destinations. As of May 2013, World Health Partners in India was employing 50 locals on motorcycles, called “Last Mile Outriders,” to take drugs to rural clinics. In Peru, APECA uses canoes and boats to distribute cofres medicinales—or medical chests with essential medicines—to communities along the Amazon River. Another distribution solution that seems to be growing in popularity is using existing supply chains to bring health products to consumers. ColaLife utilizes Coca-Cola’s established supply chains to bring essential medicines to communities. Similarly, Clinics4All uses commercial supply chains to increase access to medicines across Africa and Asia, as does PSI Angola, PSI Somaliland, and PSI South Sudan.
CHMI will soon release data that measures the impact of organizations on health and economics in developing countries. Program Director Donika Dimovska recently described the plan in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
We will continue to track the growth of developing country health markets. But the question still remains: Which organizations are achieving health and financial results important to national and global health policy makers, donors, investors, and other health care managers? A standardized set of performance metrics could help fairly compare organizations and set reliable benchmarks. The good news is we’re working on that, in collaboration with others such as the Impact Investment & Reporting Standards (IRIS) team at the Global Impact Investing Network.
With a better understanding of which health organizations in these extremely dynamic health markets are having an impact, we can better track and support the scale up of care that is measurably improving the lives of the poor.
The International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health released today its 2013 Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Progress Report, which found gradual increases in access to vaccines, treatment, and other interventions in the 15 countries with the highest numbers of child deaths from pneumonia and diarrhea. The report found that seven countries achieved some progress toward the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) targets, while eight countries had not made significant progress toward reaching targets.
Global health advocates today commemorate the fifth annual World Pneumonia Day by calling on global leaders to scale up existing interventions and invest in new diagnostics and treatments to defeat pneumonia. Today is marked by an integrated effort to combat both pneumonia and diarrhea, which together account for 26 percent of all child deaths globally.
“On World Pneumonia Day, I call on governments and their partners to commit to promoting breastfeeding and providing clean water, a healthy environment, and all the medicine and vaccinations children need. By working to protect children from pneumonia, we can shield them from other deadly diseases and help them to survive and thrive,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
PSI and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) signed a Memorandum of Understanding this week in Geneva in an agreement to work together in the fight against malnutrition. Potential areas of collaboration include joint program design and delivery, new business development, and advocacy for innovative approaches to development.
Karl Hofmann (left), the President and CEO of PSI, joined Marc Van Ameringen (right) and members of GAIN senior management to officially cement the partnership. PSI particularly focuses on social marketing and behavior change communication. Their approach leverages private sector resources and utilizes private sector communication and delivery techniques.
“PSI’s approach to driving change in the field of nutrition aligns with GAIN’s own way of working,” said Marc Van Ameringen. “It makes this a natural partnership and one which can help both organizations really drive impact for nutrition.”
Activities related to the partnership are to be finalized.
There are an estimated 94,000 people living with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR TB) The WHO says that roughly one in five of those people are not receiving care.
In its latest report on the state of TB around the world, the WHO sounds the alarm on the issue of MDR TB spreading and the lack of action to address the problem. However, it is not all bad news.
“Nearly 20 years after the WHO declaration of TB as a global public health emergency, major progress has been made towards 2015 global targets set within the context of the Millennium Development Goals,” says the report.
Others are not so optimistic. ACTION’s Kolleen Bouchane recently wrote in the Huffington Post about the emerging crisis. She says progress has been sliding the past few years and the gaps are critical in terms of stopping the spread and progression of TB.
“We’ve reached a point where an ancient disease is outrunning our attempts to control it. Despite some visionary political commitments — such as recent U.S. and UK commitments to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — ultimately, our global fight against TB is starved of political leadership and funding,” she writes.
By Jennifer Abrevaya, Sr. Manager, Customer Feedback and Response at Merck
By the final week of our Fellowship assignment, it was hard to believe how quickly the time had flown. In the time since my previous blog post, we created and refined our toolkit content, traveled back to Tanzania to pilot our work, made final changes based on the pilot, and were preparing to present the completed toolkit to the PSI home office staff. It had been a whirlwind, but so rewarding to look at this amazing resource and see the volume and quality of work we were able to accomplish in such a short time.
Our PSI supervisor Mary refers to the toolkit “our legacy.” Once this short assignment was done, and we went back to our regular jobs next week, PSI would be using our work for years and years to come. It will be translated into several languages and made available to all 69 PSI platforms around the world. Years from now, Representatives will still participate in our workshops to improve their customer interactions; Marketing Directors will be referring to our guides to make sure they create resources that are relevant and compelling; and Supervisors will be running their operations and coaching their teams more effectively. The private sector expertise that we have at Merck will be applied in a nonprofit way, all in the name of improving the health of patients in need.
Even though this toolkit will be used for a long time, we were already able to see some immediate results. For instance –in Tanzania, we conducted several Advanced Communication workshops with the sales team, and after the meeting went out in the field to see how they were able to start incorporating their new skills into their customer conversations. Every single representative used what they had learned in the workshops, and the already high-quality of the medical discussions compared to our first trip in May had improved even more. Seeing such results just a day after the workshops, it was breathtaking to think about how this would be multiplied over the years, as more and more of PSI’s sales teams were coached on these new skills through our work. And combined with even better visual resources and coaching, they will have the opportunity to save a lot of patient lives as they give providers the important medical information they need.
Often at Merck, we don’t often take the time to stop and enjoy the fruits of our labor… we focus hard on our projects and tasks, and then move on as each box is checked. We don’t always think about our work as a legacy that contributes long-term to the health of patients worldwide. I’ve come back to Merck with this new mindset – thinking of how my contributions will have an impact on public health for years to come.
Our RTC Fellowship assignment was the experience of a lifetime. Our team is so grateful to PSI for the opportunity, as well as the hospitality and inspiration that we were given every single day. And we look forward to continuing our relationship with the organization – Merck gives each of us 40 hours per year of volunteer time, and we’ve already offered our hours to PSI so that we can continue to help care for Sara.
By Jennifer Abrevaya, Sr. Manager, Customer Feedback and Response at Merck
In our first days at PSI, our team worked to absorb as much information as we could. Mary, our PSI project manager, put together a great onboarding that helped us learn about PSI’s work directly from their subject matter experts. We spent the first two weeks learning about PSI’s products and services for family planning, safe water, malaria prevention, and much more… all geared towards a woman we learned about named Sara.
In the world of Customer Experience (my main focus at Merck), a person such as Sara is a really powerful tool for connecting with your customer. A persona is an archetype of one of an organization’s key customers that helps bring the customer to life – it takes you beyond basic demographic and purchasing data, and instead creates a vivid portrait that makes the archetype feel like a real person. It helps in making customer-focused decisions, because you see the world through that customer’s eyes instead of your own.