Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.
I’m sitting in my hotel room in Washington DC as I write this post, and my brain is fried. Fried in a good way because I got to geek out on development all day long with people who are passionate about global health.
PSI’s mission is to make it “easier for people in the developing world to lead healthier lives and plan the families they desire by marketing affordable products and services.” They strive for pragmatism and have a strong focus on research and measurement.
Though PSI is well known in the development world, they are not an NGO that has a lot of name recognition with the general population. With a heavy focus on family planning, they have programs targeting malaria, child survival, HIV, reproductive health and non-communicable disease. They are probably most known for their work in contraception. Condoms, in particular. One of the presentations I experienced, called “Making Condoms Cool”, included a presentation of some of the condoms and marketing materials used to get high risk youth and adults to use contraception.
But PSI is much more than condoms and contraception. I also heard of how they are empowering youth to host radio shows that allow them to talk about sex while getting a public health message out in the discussion. They are working with health care workers to be more youth-friendly in order to help address their needs and not be judgmental of their actions. Social marketing campaigns are encouraging mothers in Pakistan to breast feed in the first hour to get the health benefits of colostrum.
Throughout the day, I received a pretty good overview of the state of global health and development in general. There was a lot of talk about the need for partnerships moving forward. To tackle the world’s problems and to get the funding to do so is going to require those in the private and public sector to work together.
I also had the opportunity to visit the USAID office for a presentation on PSI’s family planning programs in Madagascar (funded by USAID). There was talk about social franchising which works by “creating a network of health care providers that are contractually obligated to deliver specified services in accordance with franchise standards under a common brand.” This innovative approach helps address health problems more holistically and less vertically.
I had also had the opportunity to have a coffee with PSI’s President & CEO, Karl Hofmann. It was great to be able to just sit and have a discussion about development, PSI and life in general. My day ended with some potty talk around how PSI was addressing sanitation in Bihar, India.
Overall, I was impressed by PSI’s approach to global health using a marketing perspective. They are big on research, finding the right markets and measuring results. There was a lot of talk about keeping Sara healthy. Sara being the person they serve.
I learned a lot in my full day with PSI, and I hope this won’t be my last time visiting with them. As they told me from the beginning, their story is fascinating, but it’s a long and complicated one to tell.