Population Services International (PSI) has partnered with local governments and organizations to create long term health solutions in the developing world since 1970. Originally focused on family planning, they have since expanded their reach to include programs that target a broad range of issues affecting the developing world such as maternal health, malaria, child survival, HIV, reproductive health, malnutrition and non-communicable disease.
PSI is not only saving lives, but also teaching the world’s most vulnerable populations to make informed health decisions to save themselves. For example in Malawi, diarrheal disease was causing record absences in schools. PSI educated the children in hygiene practices, and schools reported a 90% reduction in absenteeism immediately following their efforts. And beyond the positive impact in schools, children taught their families what they had learned, which led to a 35% reduction in diarrheal disease cases admitted to the community clinic.
From their world headquarters in Washington, D.C., PSI dives directly into the 69 countries they serve. From delivering tuberculosis treatments in slums or using street theater to reach high-risk groups in red light districts of Mumbai, PSI is doing whatever is necessary to reach the people who need them most. And their tolerant approach to health seems to be paying off. In 2011, the information, products and services provided by over 8,000 PSI staff members and affiliates prevented 55.2 million malaria episodes, 3.9 million diarrhea cases, 4.7 million unintended pregnancies, 206,800 HIV infections, 13,600 maternal deaths, and 478,900 deaths caused by malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia.
PSI’s work positively influences the developing world beyond improving health. They work with local warehouses, pharmacies, clinics, and organizations to communicate information and distribute products. This practice supports local economies and increases employment opportunities for the economically disadvantaged.
Give Well is an organization that researches philanthropies and recommends the best giving opportunities to donors. Their 2011 review of Population Services International casts some doubt on the effectiveness of PSI’s practices, primarily for lack of concrete evidence that they are reaching the degree of impact intended. Give Well also discusses the positives they found with the organization. They recognize PSI as a major supplier of products that have been shown to save or improve lives; more specifically, PSI appears to be a dominant supplier of condoms within sub-Saharan Africa, thus country and continent-wide trends may be legitimately attributable directly to PSI’s activities.
– Dana Johnson
Source: PSI, Give Well