PSI takes a holistic approach to measurably improve the health of the most vulnerable in the countries where we operate. PSI provides accurate health information, readily accessible health products and services that empower people to make informed and healthy choices. PSI helps people help themselves.
In communities with severe health problems, PSI relies on effective community influencers to spread the messages of health. In Malawi, for instance, where absenteeism in schools due to diarrheal disease was a significant problem, PSI depended on children to become the agents of change in their communities. After PSI educated the students on hygiene and sanitation practices, the schools recorded a 90% reduction in absenteeism due to diarrheal disease. Moreover, the positive health impact extended beyond the schools and into the community as well; because the students brought home the health messages and families adopted the safe water practices, the community clinic reported a 35% decrease in diarrheal disease cases.
PSI also empowers individuals to protect the most vulnerable in their communities—children under five years of age. PSI developed an integrated health care package with pre-packaged prevention and treatment products for malaria and diarrheal disease. The distribution of these products can make a significant impact in communities where the leading causes of mortality among children under five are diarrheal disease with severe dehydration and severe malaria. In Madagascar alone, PSI can improve the health of half a million children over the next four years by distributing these packages. Worldwide, PSI’s integrated approach to health averted 6 million diarrhea cases and 34 million malaria episodes in 2008.
PSI’s commitment to communities also translates into our work with populations neglected by traditional health programs. Stigmatized by families, communities and even healthcare settings, 70% of injecting drug users (IDUs) in Mumbai live on the street without access to basic amenities, and an estimated 24.4% of them are infected with HIV. To curtail the incidence of HIV/AIDS among IDUs in Mumbai, PSI adopts a holistic, peer-led approach and engages IDUs through outreach and service provision in the drop-in center. PSI’s commitment to the most at-risk populations worldwide averted almost 3 million HIV DALYs in 2008.
PSI’s holistic, integrated and tolerant approach to health—delivering tuberculosis treatment in Karachi slums, holding safe water demonstrations for the poor in Dar es Salaam or using street theater to reach high-risk groups in red light districts in Mumbai—helps create healthy lives in vulnerable, neglected and stigmatized communities worldwide.