- Top charities
Please note: This content is not actively maintained. It was published as part of our 2007-2008 report on international aid. For up-to-date content, see our most recent report on international aid.
We have published a more recent review of this organization. See our most recent review of PSI.
PSI sells and markets a variety of products intended to combat disease, as well as (in some cases) improve nutrition and prevent unwanted pregnancies. The following table gives a relatively complete picture of PSI's activities based on 2005 expenses; links go to relevant section of our problems and solutions overview. Data was provided by PSI, using materials that cannot be posted publicly but are available upon request (see below for details).
|Activity||Total budget||Portion of PSI's budget this accounts for||Primary product||% of budget spent on primary product|
|HIV/AIDS prevention||$143,386,919||50%||Condoms (and other safe sexual behavior)||80%|
|Malaria prevention||$65,432,170||23%||Insecticide treated nets (ITNs)||85%|
|Diarrhea prevention||$6,287,377||2%||Water purification||100%|
|Malaria treatment||$3,574,773||1%||Prepacked therapy (Drugs)||100%|
|Diarrhea treatment||$2,123,221||1%||Oral Rehydration Salts||100%|
|Other||$33,009,180||11%||Includes tuberculosis treatment and Safe Delivery Kits|
HIV/AIDS prevention - marketing condoms and promoting abstinence, monogamy, and condom use - accounts for about 50% of PSI's expenses. Combined with marketing insecticide treated nets (ITNs), we have about 73% of PSI's budget; so we focus on these two activities in later sections of this review.
It's not practical for us to examine the rest of PSI's products in depth, but generally, these activities match with our understanding of the more cost-effective ways to help people, addressing many of the biggest problems for those in Africa: maternal and perinatal death (which PSI aims to help prevent through family planning), diarrhea (which PSI fights with oral rehydration therapy, an extremely cheap and simple way to save lives), etc. We do not have a strong understanding of the Safe Water System, which promotes products that people can add to water to make it safe; we haven't seen this strategy employed in any other context, but we do not focus on it since it is a small part of PSI's budget (for the record, PSI does have materials available gauging this strategy's impact).
PSI is a charity; the reason it charges for products and services is not to profit, but rather to distribute them more efficiently. As shown below, revenues only end up recovering around 15% of PSI's costs.
Through informal conversations with them and our own reasoning, we'd summarize the logic behind selling (as opposed to giving) as follows:
On the other hand, we can see many reasons to give rather than sell, including:
The merits of selling vs. giving are often debated. We don't take a general position on which is better. Rather, we evaluate what we know about individual charities' abilities to save lives consistently and cost-effectively. We believe (as should emerge from this review as a whole) that PSI is strong on these counts.
Across its strategies, PSI employs the following general approach (detailed more fully in Attachment B-18, Pgs 4-7):
Despite PSI's stated goal of conducting TRaC and MAP reports comprehensively, its coverage is far from complete. Attachment B-31 shows its "scorecard," summarizing what monitoring it has and hasn't done; when looking for these reports on its research website, we can only find some of them (accounting for about 10% of its total activities). This raises the question of whether there may be publication bias at work. Still, while many of our applicants state a commitment to organization-wide monitoring and evaluation, PSI is one of the few that demonstrates both a comprehensive strategy for doing so and actual execution of reports for a large portion of its activities.
|Total net costs||Gross cost of goods sold||Revenues||Promotion: advertising||Promotion: interpersonal communication||Research & evaluation||National staff||Local staff||Other Overhead (travel, furniture, equipment, consultants)|
PSI mostly serves Sub-Saharan Africa, but also does significant work in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Activities in both Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia have grown significantly in recent years, and we expect new money to go towards programs in those regions. (All information in the tables below comes from PSI's Unit Cost Analyses - see below.)
|Year||Total expenses||Sub-Saharan Africa||South-East Asia||Central Asia||Central America||Eastern Europe||South America|
Most of the items PSI markets, as discussed in our problems and solutions overview, can be expected to save lives if they are both acquired and used by people who need them. In this section, we examine the evidence that PSI is making these two things happen, focusing on its largest two programs: HIV/AIDS prevention and insecticide treated net (ITN) marketing. In both cases, we find reason to believe that (a) PSI is a leading, if not the leading, supplier in the regions it serves; (b) the people served likely use its products. We conclude with reasonable, though not complete, confidence that PSI's activities accomplish their goal of saving lives. Details follow.
The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 2.1 billion condoms were provided by "by bilateral donors, UNFPA and social marketing organizations" to poor countries worldwide in 2004; that same year, PSI sold 850 million condoms (Attachment B-4, Pg 4). This implies that PSI alone accounted for over 1/3 of aid-based condom distribution worldwide.
Based on this observation and the examination of more specific projects (immediately below), we believe that in its regions of focus, PSI is a leading, if not the leading, supplier of the products it markets. We give two region-specific examples, using projects that are particularly well documented: Mozambique, where PSI markets condoms (and promotes safe sexual behavior) in high-risk areas, and Madagascar, where it markets insecticide-treated nets (ITNs).
As Attachment B-9, pg 1 states, PSI operates in districts of Mozambique that were recommended by the Mozambique Ministry of Health as being "high risk" in terms of HIV/AIDS; it sells condoms and uses both advertising and interpersonal communication to promote safe sexual behavior (not just condom use but also abstinence and monogamy).
The table below shows the total number of condoms sold, the estimated number of urban males aged 15-49 in Mozambique as a whole, and the implied number of "condoms per [relevant] person" sold by PSI from 1997-2006. Data on condoms sold comes from Unit Cost Analyses and Sales Reports (see below). Population and demographic information comes from Attachment B-21.
|Year||Condoms sold||# of 15-64 yr old, urban males||Condoms / targeted person|
Note that we are dividing condoms sold by the total population of urban males aged 15-49 - including those who are outside PSI's districts of focus and those who don't use condoms at all. If we had the data to adjust for these factors, we would guess it would mean a substantially higher "condoms per person" figure. Knowing how understated these numbers are, we find them to provide some evidence that PSI is a highly significant provider of condoms in its areas of focus.
Further evidence comes from PSI's direct surveys of condom coverage:
From this, we take that PSI has sold a large number of condoms - and likely has been a leading supplier of them - in its regions of focus in Mozambique.
As Attachment B-8 details, PSI markets insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) in Madagascar. It also promotes ITN use through television and radio ads, as well as mobile video units (Attachment B-8, Pg 7); advertising specifically targets pregnant women and caregivers to children under 5 (Attachment B-8, pg 1), the people who are generally most at risk from malaria.
The following table is taken from PSI's Unit Cost Analyses and Sales Reports (see below).
|Year||Gross cost||# sold||Gross cost per net sold|
According to the World Health Organization, long-lasting ITNs and Olysets - 50% of the ITNs PSI sells (see Attachment B-9, Pg 28) - last between 4-5 years without needing to be retreated by insecticide. (Regular ITNs last the same amount of time but require retreatment.) In the last three years, PSI has sold 1.7 million ITNs, implying about 1.7 million direct or indirect customers - in a country with a total population of 20 million people, not all of whom are at risk from malaria or interested in owning an ITN.
We did a rough estimate of how many people in Madagascar actually gained ownership of an ITN over this time period, using PSI's survey data from Attachment A-12. This data estimates that 45% of households owned an ITN in 2006, up from 22% in 2004; combined with PSI's estimates of the total number of households and likely ITNs per household (Attachment A-11, Pg 42), we come up with about 3 million ITNs owned in 2006, vs. about 1.5 million owned in 2004. Even if all people who owned an ITN replaced it over this period, that implies that PSI sold about half of all the ITNs sold in Madagascar.
It isn't enough to sell materials; relevant people must use them in order for PSI's activities to be saving lives. As discussed above, part of PSI's approach is systematic use of surveys to track changes in behavior; not all of the surveys it refers to are available, but from what we've seen, we have reason to believe that PSI's products are being used. We first look at Mozambique and Madagascar, the two countries described above, and then give a general overview of the other survey data we've seen.
PSI's survey data from Mozambique indicate large changes in condom utilization in the areas it works in - much larger than across Africa as a whole. Given PSI's large role in these areas (discussed above), we're inclined to believe that PSI was largely responsible for increased condom use in high-risk areas, and therefore saved lives from sexually transmitted diseases. We don't know whether it also increased the practice of other safe behaviors (abstinence and monogamy). Details follow.
The table below summarizes PSI surveys on condom use in Mozambique from 1996, 2001 and 2004, according to PSI surveys. Between 340 and 830 people responded to each question. PSI did not provide the exact wording of the questions asked. (This data is taken from Attachment B-9, Pg 6 (table) and Pg 22 (chart)).
|Condom use at last sex with a regular non-marital non-cohabiting partner||25%||30%||63%|
|Condom use at last sex with a non-regular partner||25%||43%||68%|
|Consistent condom use with a regular non-marital non-cohabiting partner||-||-||43%|
|Consistent condom use with a non-regular partner||-||-||52%|
|Condom use at last sex with a regular partner when the male has 2+ partners||-||28%||59%|
|Condom use at last sex with a non regular partner when the male has 2+ partners||-||43%||69%|
We believe that it is somewhat dangerous to trust survey data about sexual activity, particularly questions about "consistent condom use" (the more specific question, "Did you use a condom in your last sexual encounter?" is less vague and easier to answer concretely). However, across the board the surveys imply large increases in condom use.
We examined the USAID Demographic and Health Surveys to get some sense of how much of this change was simply the result of the general environment (i.e., condom use increasing across Africa as a whole). While these surveys do show that condom use increased across Africa, the changes are not nearly on the scale noted above. Data from these surveys is taken from 28 countries, 16 of which offered condom use data for 2 or more years, and is available at the HIV/AIDS Survey Indicators Database.
Men reporting condom use at last sexual activity:
|Average change (arithmetic)||1994-2005||3%|
Men reporting condom use at last higher-risk sexual activity:
|Average change (arithmetic)||1994-2005||9%|
PSI's regions of focus, drawn from a smaller but still significant sample, show changes closer to 40%. This difference could still reflect many factors independent of PSI, and is not conclusive. However, we believe that this comparison gives some reason to believe that PSI's large-scale activities impacted behavior, through some combination of changing attitudes and making condoms more available.
PSI conducted surveys in both 2004 and 2006 to assess utilization of ITNs in Madagascar. The surveys selected a random set of households across all the "Fokontanys" (districts in Madagascar) where PSI worked (methodology in Attachment B-8, pg 25) and questioned pregnant women and caregivers to children under five. The sample size was 1367 in 2004 and 1553 in 2006.
|Owned at least one untreated mosquito net or insecticide treated net (ITN)||66%||64%|
|Slept under untreated mosquito net or ITN last night (among pregnant women)||47%||49%|
|Slept under untreated mosquito net or ITN last night (among children under five years of age)||52%||55%|
|Owned at least one ITN||22%||45%|
|Slept under ITN last night (among pregnant women and children under five years of age)||16%||38%|
|Slept under ITN last night (among pregnant women)||12%||28%|
|Slept under ITN last night (among children under five years of age)||16%||38%|
|Utilized % Owned: Untreated nets||75%||81%|
|Utilized % Owned: ITNs||67%||76%|
Note that this data implies that the change in ownership of nets was dominated by a change in insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), the kind PSI sells, while ownership of untreated nets remained relatively constant. This is consistent with (though again, not implying) PSI's leading role in the change in ITN ownership.
We would guess that surveying people about last night's activities, as PSI did, likely provides more accurate data than surveying them about their habits would, since the former is less vague and easier to recall. Having slept under a bednet last night is not the same as regularly sleeping under a bednet, but as we explain in a later section, using different possible interpretations of this number has virtually no effect on our estimate of the number of lives saved.
The larger point is that the above data suggests that owners of ITNs in Madagascar largely use them, and that utilization did not fall as ownership rose - implying that some combination of PSI's selling and promotion resulted in more people's using ITNs.
Aside from looking in depth at the two regions above, we also examined several available evaluations of PSI's interpersonal communication strategy (IPC), which consists of small-group discussions aimed at changing behavior. We find the evidence for this strategy's effectiveness to be moderately positive but not strongly convincing.
We found seven PSI reports that directly studied the IPC strategy and surveyed people's reports of condom use over time. These reports, Attachments B-10 through B-16, are summarized below.
|Location||Survey 1 date||Survey 2 date||Survey 3 date||Survey 1 sample size||Survey 2 sample size||Survey 3 sample size||Survey 1 Used condom last time||Survey 2 Used condom last time||Survey 3 Used condom last time||Survey 1 consistent condom use||Survey 2 consistent condom use||Survey 3 consistent condom use|
In PSI's favor, 6 out of 7 of these studies show large changes with large sample sizes (and the exception is the study with the smallest sample size). On the other hand, these results don't address the question of whether PSI was mostly responsible for this change, or whether it was more due to broad changes independent of PSI.
Answering this question would be difficult, especially because PSI aims to reach as many people as possible with its promotion campaigns, and presumably cannot ensure that any "comparison group" is completely unexposed to its strategies. In the one case where PSI did attempt to use a comparison group (the 2005 Romania study), the comparison group (people without explicit exposure to PSI's strategy) saw a similar improvement to the people PSI targeted, although it's questionable how comparable these two groups really were (for example, the comparison group had twice as high a proportion of married people - see Attachment B-14, pg 5).
Selling life-saving materials en masse is, by nature, both likely to be cost-effective if it works (more on this below) and difficult to measure with great confidence or precision. There are many concerns about using the evidence above to conclude that PSI's activities are effective:
We cannot have as much confidence in our understanding of PSI as in our understanding of PIH and Interplast, whose activities are simpler and more straightforward. However, we are far more confident in PSI than in any other organization approaching PSI's size and complexity.
PSI's strategy and approach are both consistent (i.e., it articulates a high-level strategy behind all its activities, and can present a unified view of them) and adaptive (i.e., PSI constantly collects data on its results, which it can presumably use to change what isn't working). Though what it does is by nature difficult to measure, the evidence we have suggests that it is a leading supplier of life-saving materials, and has experienced past success in promoting their use. In the end, although we don't have a complete picture of PSI, having both the high-level picture and a good understanding of example projects has made us feel that PSI is generally a strong organization: well-organized with strong execution and honest self-evaluation. This feeling makes us more inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt on issues and activities we have less understanding of.
PSI gives its own estimates of how many lives its activities have significantly changed (HIV infections averted, lives saved from malaria, etc.); we look at these and give the implied cost per life changed, then compare them in two areas (condoms and ITNs) to our own estimates. PSI's estimates are within our ranges for cost-effectiveness; we therefore feel somewhat confident in using PSI's estimates as indicators of what might be expected from the activities we haven't examined.
Overall, we find that PSI's cost-effectiveness is competitive with that of our best finalists, in the ballpark of $1,000 per life saved or significantly changed.
The following summarizes PSI's estimates across several of its activities:
|Year||HIV/AIDS: Infections averted||Malaria: deaths averted||Contraception: maternal deaths averted||Diarrhea: deaths averted||Total: lives changed||Source|
|2003||188,014||44,848||10,332||22,211||265,405||HIV/AIDS estimates from Attachment B-29; others from Annual sales reports|
|2004||192,411||78,405||11,798||26,279||308,893||HIV/AIDS estimates from Attachment B-29; others from Annual sales reports|
|2005||209,809||92,472||12,544||36,264||351,089||HIV/AIDS estimates from Attachment B-29; others from Attachment B-4 Pg 1|
|2003||$105,220||$27,490||$35,730||$8,300||Unit Cost Analyses|
|2004||$118,470||$42,410||$33,090||$7,500||Unit Cost Analyses|
|2005||$143,390||$69,010||$32,570||$8,400||Unit Cost Analyses|
We do not have estimates of lives saved for PSI's other activities, but we tried to get a rough sense for how PSI views their cost-effectiveness, by comparing PSI's activities based on its implied estimates of the cost per Disability adjusted life-year (DALY) averted. We find DALY to be a problematic metric, as detailed on our DALY page and on our blog, but believe that it should correlate roughly with lives saved. Since PSI estimates it for many strategies, we find it a useful way of determining how widely it believes its own strategies to vary in terms of cost-effectiveness.
In the table below, PSI's DALY estimates come from Attachment B-5, pg 4-5, and costs come from the 2005 Unit Cost Analysis.
|Product||$ cost (millions)||DALYs (millions)||$/DALY|
|VCT for HIV/AIDS||$20||0.4||$54|
|PPT for malaria||$4||0.2||$14|
|ORT for diarrhea||$2||0.1||$19|
Consistent with its estimates of lives saved, PSI implicitly finds ITNs to be slightly less cost-effective than condoms, and puts three of its other strategies in the same ballpark (while family planning and VCT result in fewer lives saved per dollar, but largely have different goals - preventing unwanted pregnancies for the former, and slowing the spread for HIV/AIDS for the latter).
We estimate HIV infections prevented by PSI's condom supplying programs, using the AVERT model (see Attachment B-23, pg 31-35), a theoretical model that predicts new HIV infections for a population based on HIV prevalence and sexual behavior patterns. Details follow on our estimate, but first we provide the spreadsheet we used as a calculator, so you can plug in your own assumptions:
For most factors in the model - especially those we know nothing about, such as sexual behavior patterns - we use a large range of different possible assumptions, and estimate ranges for the cost per infection averted (details below). However, we hold the following assumptions constant:
|Year||Gross cost||Program income||Net cost||Condoms sold||Gross cost per condom sold||Net cost per condom sold||Source|
|2003||$91,613||$11,993||$79,620||$782,500||$0.12||$0.10||Unit Cost Analyses|
|2004||$95,204||$14,413||$80,791||$855,712||$0.11||$0.09||Unit Cost Analyses|
|2005||$115,545||$17,589||$97,956||$931,681||$0.12||$0.11||Unit Cost Analyses|
Holding the above assumptions constant, we estimate the cost per life saved for various populations, shown below. The populations are distinguished by their HIV prevalence, sexuality (which affects the transmission risk per sex act, as detailed above), and number of partners ("monogamous" populations have 1 partner per year; "promiscuous" populations have 10-50). For each, we generate a range for the cost per infection averted, varying the number of sex acts per year from 50-500 for both populations (50-500 sexual acts with 1 partner for "monogamous"; in total 50-500 sexual acts, but with 10-50 different partners for "promiscuous"); we vary the number of condoms used per person per year from 1-500. In most cases, these variations do not have large effects on our estimate of infections averted per condom used, and thus of the cost per infection averted.
|Group||HIV prevalence||Cost per infection averted (low estimate)||Cost per infection averted (high estimate)|
|Monogamous homosexuals||Highly variable|
The average HIV prevalence in relevant countries (based on prevalence data from the WHO's Global Health Atlas), weighted by how much activity PSI conducts in each, is 3.3% (Data on PSI's condoms sold by country come from the 2005 Annual Sales Report). This by itself would imply cost-per-averted-infection numbers closer to the $2000 range, but as we state above, we would guess that PSI disproportionately targets high-prevalence populations and that those who are more at risk, and thus more likely to use condoms. Ultimately, we find it reasonable to expect costs per infection averted to be in the $200-700 range which is consistent with PSI's own estimate (~$650, above).
In 2005, the latest year for which we have both sales and cost information, PSI sold a total of 8.2m nets at a cost of $56m (data from Unit Cost Analysis and Sales Report documents). We estimate that those activities saved between 25,000 and 90,000 lives, yielding a cost per life saved of $600 - $2400 This calculation does not credit PSI with increasing utilization rates of bednets, only with increasing ownership at a steady rate of utilization.
Details of the calculation follow. We take numbers such as "number of nets sold" at face value, since it is clear to us where PSI got this data; we also use research-based numbers when possible. When neither is available - i.e., when the only reference point we have is a PSI estimate whose source is not clear - we calculate two values, one designed to err on the side of overstating lives saved ("aggressive") and the other designed to err on the side of understating lives saved ("conservative"). In this way, we attempt to capture a reasonable range within we expect the number of lives saved (and thus the cost per life saved) to fall.
|ID||Step||Conservative estimate||Aggressive estimate||Source|
|a||# sold||8,237,277||8,237,277||2005 Sales report|
|b||% wasted/misused||20%||5%||See note 1|
|c||# owned||6,589,822||7,825,413||a * b|
|d||% sold to rural (at-risk) areas||70%||70%||Attachment B-20|
|e||# sold in at-risk areas||4,612,875||5,477,789||c * d|
|f||Utilization rate||50%||80%||See note 2|
|g||# used||2,306,438||4,382,231||e * f|
|h||# children / net||0.5||1||See note 3|
|i||# of children protected||1,153,219||4,382,231||g * h|
|j||malaria mortality rate (rural)||1.35%||1.35%||Attachment B-20; see note 4|
|k||# would die without net||15,568||59,160||I * J|
|l||protective effect||50%||50%||See problems and solutions overview|
|m||annual lives saved||7,784||29,580||k * l|
|n||years a net lasts||3||3||Attachment B-320|
|o||total lives saved||23,352||88,740||m * n|
|p||cost||$55,281,638||$55,281,638||2005 Sales report|
|q||$ / life saved||$2,367||$623||o / p|
PSI estimate ($820 per life saved for the most recent year) is at the low end of our range, but not outside it.
It is common for us to see a charity estimate its own cost-effectiveness in a way that wildly overstates it, either by leaving out important costs or by equating "people served" with "lives changed" (rather than incorporating probabilistic estimates to go from people protected to lives saved, for example). PSI's own estimates do not appear to have this problem. In both of the examples above, PSI is explicitly using the same approach that we use, though with different background assumptions; and in both cases, their estimate is consistent with ours.
With that in mind, we believe that PSI's estimates are likely as good as, and quite possibly better than, our own, and returning to the tables at the top of this section, we are inclined to have some confidence in PSI's estimates for other areas (maternal mortality and diarrhea). We are further encouraged by the fact that PSI explicitly aims to assess and maximize cost-effectiveness, though we disagree with the details of how it does so (its Annual Sales Report) states that it uses Disability adjusted life-years (DALYs), a metric we find problematic, as its chief measurement).
Having formed confidence in PSI's general approach and in the validity of its calculations, we are inclined to shade our cost-effectiveness estimates toward its own numbers. Its overall "cost per life significantly changed" (see above) is around $650; we find it reasonable to expect, from the organization as a whole, roughly a life significantly changed (usually saved from death) for every $650-1000. This does not include other benefits of its activities, such as unwanted pregnancies prevented by contraception or non-fatal malaria cases prevented by ITNs.
Size and scope. PSI is a broad, multi-national organization with programming and staff all over the developing world, including Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. This review has largely focused on PSI's promotion of ITNs and safe sexual behavior, which together account for about 73% of its budget; we have a generally illustrative breakdown of PSI's activities that covers about 89%.
Personnel. PSI's board has background in government (specifically, international relations), public health, and the for-profit sector (Attachment C-2). PSI's senior leadership have long tenures with PSI, as well as previous experience with the State Department (Attachment C-5).
Over the past few years, PSI's revenues and expenses have grown rapidly and in line with each other, consistent with (though not implying) the idea that PSI's activities can scale relatively easily with more funding. As of the most recent available audit (end of 2005), PSI held $46m in assets, equal to roughly 15% of 2006 expenses; this strikes us as relatively little cash to have on hand (if revenue stopped, it would only be 2 months' worth), but PSI may operate in this way because of relatively predictable funding, as it receives a substantial amount of its support from governments. In 2005, governments accounted for $223 million of PSI's $287 million in revenues ($122 million from the US, $101 million from other governments). Government funding as a proportion of total revenues was slightly higher in 2004.
We believe that PSI's overall approach - marketing life-saving materials - is (a) logical and intelligent; (b) likely to be at least as cost-effective, in terms of saving and changing lives, as any of our other applicants'. We also believe that PSI is superior to all of our other finalists in terms of its consistent, strategic, organization-wide commitment to thorough monitoring and evaluation; while our other finalists run some projects that we find as worthwhile as PSI's programs, none have given us the same kind of confidence in the organization as a whole. Between our confidence in its specific activities and in its organizational approach, we find PSI to be the best organization we know for translating donations into lives saved.
PSI's largest disadvantage, relative to our other finalists, is that its activities are relatively hard to monitor and intangible: while Interplast can directly report the number of surgeries it has performed, and PIH can directly observe its effects on patients, estimating PSI's impact requires many assumptions and projections. This makes monitoring and evaluation all the more essential for PSI, and we hope to see its commitment to these practices continue in the future, and to result in an increasing set of information about its effectiveness. Ultimately, we are willing to accept a wider range of possible outcomes, and slightly less "tangible" effects on lives, in return for our belief that in all likelihood, a donation to PSI will help people more than a donation to any other charity we know of within this cause.
We are not cleared to publicly post PSI's financial audits, but PSI has stated that they are available to interested members of the public upon request. Please contact PSI if interested.
We made these notes during a February 2009 review of PSI's materials. Our most recent take is available at our 2008-2009 review of PSI.
In 2007-2008, PSI stood out from other charities we examined partly because of its transparency: its willingness to publicly share information about its operations, expenses and estimated impact. Since then PSI has further improved its transparency, with a new Health Impact page that provides information on its sales, expenses, and estimated health impacts broken out by product and country. Much of the information we cited from the Unit Cost Analyses and Sales Reports (which we could publicly provide only excerpts from, although we had access to the full documents) is included in the documents on the Health Impact page, although past years (prior to 2006 for some information and 2007 for other information) are not available.
Based on data from pages 2 and 7 of the 2006 Cost-effectiveness report, we believe that PSI's 2006 expenses were more concentrated than in previous years on (a) sub-Saharan Africa (up from 72% in 2005 to around 80% in 2006, with roughly even parts of this shift coming from other regions); (b) malaria products (up from 23% in 2005 to around 30% in 2006; HIV/AIDS and contraception products maintained roughly stable shares of expenses, with the balance coming from smaller programs). We feel that the activities we focus on in our review are still representative of PSI's activities as a whole (and if anything are more representative due to the higher share of malaria-related activities.)
PSI still does not appear to publish the full details of its cost-effectiveness calculations; it also does not track impact for all its programs, though it does so more than the great majority of other charities. Our most up-to-date take on PSI's effectiveness is in our 2008-2009 review.
We urge caution in interpreting our cost-effectiveness estimates, as they involve many assumptions and are based on the few regions for which we had relevant data available. However, we do not wish to revise these estimates numerically. Other cost-effectiveness estimates for insecticide-treated nets (detailed here) are consistent with our existing estimate for PSI's program.
We have updated material on two topics discussed in this review: