How a sachet of micronutrient powder boosts Somali children’s health and development

By Athanas Makundi for the UNICEF Blog Hargeisa, Somaliland March 2015: Hasha Abdi Abdullahi was desperate. She was living in a makeshift camp for the displaced in Hargeisa with her seven children after being forced to leave her home, 50 kilometres away, because of drought. She was heavily in debt and her three-year-old son, Abdisalam

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2014 has been PSI’s most impactful year yet

Once a year, PSI shares its annual impact of interventions used around the globe, including its DALYs averted. A DALY is a Disability Adjusted Life Year, or in other words, a year of healthy life lost to illness or death. Without PSI’s interventions, more than 53 million years of healthy life would have been lost.

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Can too many free and subsidized condoms actually harm markets?

By Kim Longfield and Dana Sievers In Myanmar, sexual encounters are the most common mode of HIV transmission, causing the epidemic to concentrate among key populations such as female sex workers (FSW) and their male clients (MC), as well as men who have sex with men (MSM). Since 1996, PSI/Myanmar has targeted its condom social

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Giant Puppet Skit 2

4 PSI Costumes to Inspire your Halloween

By Regina Moore, PSI Still looking for the perfect Halloween costume? At PSI we do whatever it takes to get life-saving health information to people, and often costumes are the perfect way to get people’s attention.  Check out some of the costumes we’ve used over the years, and don’t forget to share with us any

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Richard Frank, 1936-2014

The late Richard Frank, former President and CEO, PSI.

As the long-time President and CEO of Population Services International (PSI), Richard Frank was responsible for growing the organization from a small, unconventional, independent group with a passion for social marketing into an organization that gives millions of poor people around the world the opportunity to improve their lives. He passed away on April 20, 2014.

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USAID Delegation Visits PSI Project in Liberia

image0043-e1390380788906PSI and Global Communities hosted a USAID delegation in Liberia’s Bong county, earlier this month. The delegation was visiting sites the USAID-funded Improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (IWASH) Project. Leading the delegation was  USAID Global Water Coordinator Chris Holmes.

The IWASH project helped sixty-one communities reach open defecation free status in July 2013. A total of 120 communities are targeted in the effort, the program projected to reach 100 communities open defecation free by September.

“The Improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program is not just focused on bringing one group communities to ODF status, but the goal is to develop the structures and capacity of National, County and District Government”, said IWASH Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Project Manager, Madam Elizabeth Geddeh, in July.

The CLTS approach is a crucial part of both improving sanitation at the community level and ensuring that it lasts. Outlined in a 2012 document, CLTS will be spread at the local level through the IWASH project.


A recent news story in Shout Africa covered the visit by the USAID delegation:

In rural Liberia access to water and sanitation facilities is very low, a leading contributor to the spread of water-borne diseases which are one of the major causes of death amongst Liberians, especially children.

Additionally, open defecation is commonly practiced in these rural areas, which spreads disease and contamination. USAID IWASH activities are addressing these issues in three counties: Lofa, Nimba, and Bong.


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Charity Guru Lists PSI as One of His Most Effective Organizations

Peter Singer is a moral philosopher on a mission: he wants people to give more, and give better to charity.

Singer published a book The Life You Can Save which details the ways that individuals can maximize the amount of good they can achieve through giving. He is a hard-nosed ethicist who forcefully argues that individuals need to think critically about the organizations and entities to which they donate. To make the biggest impact Singer says people should think globally and contribute to organizations that promote global health and economic development.

The Life You Can Save is also a website and organization that helps people make smart decisions about charitable giving. We are thrilled that Peter Singer has recommended PSI as one of his top ten most effective charities. 

You can listen to a recent interview with Singer in which he goes into detail about his philosophy of giving, and why he recommends organizations like PSI to people who want to make the greatest social impact with their donated dollar.

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It Takes a Market to get Men to Use Condoms in Africa. Here's How.

What can be done to increase the use of condoms by men in African countries? PSI and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) teamed up over the past year to study and report on the state of play in six African countries. The results are out in six new case studies that will be presented during a  consultative meeting on the Total Market Approach that PSI and UNFPA are hosting, today and tomorrow.

During the meeting, participants will discuss the findings from the six case studies conducted in African countries. Then, representatives from ten organizations will discuss how they can work together to support the development and implementation of the Total Market Approach in national markets for male condoms and other family planning supplies.

The UNFPA sponsored case studies were carried out in the past 12 months with support from two independent researchers in Botswana, Lesotho, Mali, South Africa, Swaziland, and Uganda. All of the countries have large condom social marketing programs, are affected by HIV, and have high maternal morbidity and mortality relative to their economic development.

Content for the case studies was based on a review of the literature, seven key TMA metrics calculated from national-level data, and interviews with stakeholders. All case studies were subject to review by stakeholders, including Ministries of Health and non-governmental organizations in all six countries, UNFPA’s local and regional offices, UNFPA headquarters in New York City, PSI country and regional offices, and PSI’s headquarters in Washington DC.

Each case study describe the market for male condoms in each of the countries, and the roles of the public, social marketing, and commercial sectors in those markets.

The cases illustrate the universe of need for condoms, levels of use, socioeconomic equity among users, and the market presence of condoms for reproductive health and HIV prevention (dual protection).

They also propose a set of recommendations for improving the effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of condom markets.

The studies aim to inform the development of appropriate, evidence-based decisions to increase condom use equitably and sustainably through actions undertaken in the public, socially marketed, and commercial sectors.

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Pro-Poor Health Innovations Take Hold Around the World


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.

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Unilever’s Project Sunlight Is a Solid Approach at Corporate Social Responsibility

By C. Montague Hermann, Social Marketing TA; PSI/Somaliland

It is very difficult to create a corporate social responsibility (CSR) platform that feels genuine. Unilever, one of the world’s largest producers of consumer packaged goods, has recently launched its Project Sunrise and struggles with this very issue. The core of the campaign is to draw attention to global issues of sustainability, such as protecting the environment, improving the quality of nutrition for millions of children, and providing safe drinking water to millions of people around the world.

To do that, Unilever is trying to link these “big world issues” with the way they are changing the production and sourcing of their products, in addition to the commitments they have made to helping solve some of these big world issues. As Marc Mathieu, SVP of Marketing at Unilever puts it:

People find it hard to engage with big global issues like climate change, but if we can help people relate ‘the big world issues’ to the everyday lives of their children and families, we think that people will see the possibilities in the small changes that they can make towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

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Drug Resistance Threatens TB Progress, New Drugs Show Promise

This year marked important strides in the global tuberculosis response. By many measures the world is making great progress against TB – the rate of new TB cases has been falling worldwide for about a decade. However, progress is seriously threatened in large part due to drug resistance, according to the WHO’s “Global Tuberculosis Report 2013.”

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PBS shows how dance beats back HIV in Tanzania

PBS NewsHour traveled with the Global Fund to Tanzania to see the work of its recipients in action. One of the stops was a dance troupe program supported by PSI/Tanzania. They spoke with PSI’s Lloyd Bore and put together a slideshow of our work (seen above).

Here is a short clip of the accompanying article:

The only real magic here is the “edutainment.” That’s what Bore calls the effect of the educational song-and-dance routines performed by a troupe of actors and musicians with the nonprofit group Public Services International, or PSI. The hope is that people hanging out on the nearby streets will come a little closer for the routine and stick around long enough to digest some sobering realities conveyed through the skits and music:

- About 1 in 20 residents of Tanzania are infected with HIV.
– The virus hits youth particularly hard: 65 to 70 percent of infections occur in young people, with most deaths occurring in the 25-35 age range.
– Only about half of Tanzanian men report using condoms the last time they engaged in “high-risk sex.”

Now for the good news: much of this suffering can be prevented through correct and consistent condom use, abstinence and remaining faithful to your partner. That’s portrayed in the performances, too — sometimes along with condom demonstrations and other practical tips for avoiding HIV.

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