20 Sep

Making over the DHS Final Report: Formal and Academic to Colorful and User-Friendly

The new report features bulleted text and more than 80 color maps and graphs

Have you seen the new DHS Final Report style?  In June, the 2014 Lesotho DHS was published and is the first report to try out our new format featuring color graphics, maps, bulleted text, and standard indicator definition boxes.

While minor formatting and style changes have been introduced over the past 30 years, the DHS Final Report of 2013 looked much as it did in the 1990s.  In 2013, a more dramatic change was proposed:  to create a more modern and user-friendly report.  In 2015, the Lesotho Ministry of Health (MOH) 2014 DHS team agreed to be the first survey to utilize the new DHS final report style.

I had the pleasure of being in the capital city of Maseru to collect feedback on the new style.  I met with the report authors from the MOH, academics, program managers, donors, and UN agencies.  The positive response was overwhelming: everyone agreed that the new report was far more accessible, less intimidating, and would lead to better use of DHS data to inform decision  making.

Each chapter is introduced by a box of key findings, highlighted key trends, and patterns in the data

Leutsoa Matsoso, one of the report authors, commented, “This one is easier to get straight to the point.  I know the first [LDHS report] from 2004; it was also good, but there was a lot of ingredients before you get to the meat . . . for policy makers, for decision makers, it’s easy to see…Here [in the old report], if you take too long explaining, nobody ends up reading that information.”

Some of the more technical, academic stakeholders had expressed concern that a more user-friendly report might detract from its usefulness for analysts, but the new report style meets the needs of both audiences.  So have no fears: all of the DHS tables are still included in this report.  Mahlape Ramoseme, Director of the Health Planning and Statistics Department at the MOH explains, “You go [to the tables] if you want more than what is provided here [in the text], but the key findings give you what’s important . . .  Even the color, it catches the eye, you really want to read it.  It’s not too intimidating.”

Key definitions are provided in boxes, making them easier to understand and reference

Ultimately, the goal of The DHS Program is to provide assistance in the collection and use of data.  The 2014 LDHS data are already being used by the highest levels of government.  Mr. Matsoso credits the new report style with increasing ownership and use in Lesotho: “Now that Parliament has taken notice of the LDHS, and now that they themselves can see the trends and patterns without having to interpret tables, they will say, ‘we want to fund that because we want to know what is really happening.’   They will see the impact.”

And it sounds like the effects of the report change will carry beyond even the DHS in Lesotho.  Matsoso reported, “It was also capacity building for us, because we are used to writing reports but we normally do it in the narrative way.  This one we had to critically talk to the tables, talk to the data, try to find trends…This was very positive for us, because now when we prepare reports we will focus on the critical points.”

Many of the upcoming DHS surveys will be utilizing this new format piloted in Lesotho.  The DHS Program is still collecting feedback on the new Final Report style, and will incorporate comments into subsequent versions.  So explore the report today!  If you have feedback, please email Erica Nybro at Erica.Nybro@icfi.com.

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14 Sep

Reflections from Accra: A Look Back at the Regional Health Data Mapping Workshop

Group of participants and facilitators at the conclusion of the workshop

In August, The DHS Program Geospatial Team was in Accra, Ghana, hosting this year’s Regional Health Data Mapping Workshop to teach participants how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for public health decision-making and program planning. Participants, most of whom had never before used GIS in any capacity, learned the steps necessary to turn data from a table into a thematic map, working both together and independently to create maps and practice presenting them.

The workshop began with a review of Microsoft Excel techniques for cleaning and preparing indicator data to be used in a GIS software (for this workshop, the QGIS platform), which can often have very particular requirements for such data.  Once the data was cleared of errors and special characters, participants learned how to import this indicator data into a GIS and combine it with geographic data – stored in the form of a shapefile, which is a unique version of file type specifically used to store geographic information – merging the indicator data of a particular region or district to the shape of that area in the map.  Participants were then taught how to colorize the map appropriately, showing the difference between areas, emphasizing regions with higher or lower prevalence with intuitive color schemes, and overall making a visually appealing map.

Participants work in QGIS during a hands-on practice session

After completing four days’ worth of exercises and making maps under the guidance of the facilitators, participants had the opportunity to make their own maps from start to finish on the fifth day. Participants independently prepared these maps using their own program data or data from The DHS Program Spatial Data Repository. Each person had three minutes to present their map to the group and receive feedback on what worked well and identify areas for improvement. This allowed the participants to practice speaking about and presenting a map – an intangible but equally important skill.

Map made by one of the participants, using DHS data from Liberia

Map made by one of the participants, using DHS data from Liberia

While the workshop was focused on teaching participants the skills they needed to use GIS as part of their work, it also stressed the notion that participants would take these skills and knowledge gained in Accra back to their home countries and offices and pass on this information to their coworkers. We hope participants found this workshop to be informative, practical, and not least enjoyable!

Stay tuned for our final blog post, where we will be highlighting one participant in particular! Read the previous blog post in this series here.

For those who did not attend this workshop, The DHS Program offers numerous spatial data and GIS resources that can be used to self-teach. If you are interested in participating in future workshops, follow us on social media or sign up for our email alerts.

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07 Sep

Get ready for the new semester with The DHS Program

It’s that time of year again – back-to-school time! Whether you are a student preparing for the new semester or just eager to learn, we have compiled a handy list of tools and resources for you. Feel free to bookmark and revisit this page when you feel inspired or studious!

If you only have five minutes:

  • Download the mobile app for 24/7 access to DHS data (if you need some convincing, read this for details)
  • Do a quick trend analysis or pull up a visualization from STATcompiler
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to be informed of new and useful content, or just to say hi!

If you have an infinite amount of time and want to learn all there is to The DHS Program:

number3If you are ready to start analyzing DHS datasets:

If you need help with your research project:

If you are geographically focused:gis day 3

 

If you are the creative type:

If you prefer to get social: 

This list of resources should keep you busy for now! We will continue to update this post as we add more resources. Are you looking for a particular resource but don’t see it? Do you have ideas for other resources we can provide? Share them in the comments below, or send us an email at feedback@dhsprogram.com.

Our website also has a list of free student resources for you to explore.

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31 Aug

2014 Lesotho DHS Shows Great Improvements, but Focus on HIV Remains

Many DHS surveys include HIV testing. In some countries, the resulting HIV prevalence data prove to be a distraction; there is more attention on an unchanged 1% HIV prevalence rate than on the tremendous malaria burden or a high child mortality rate. The 2014 Lesotho DHS (LDHS), however, is a very different case. While the 2014 LDHS highlights the country’s great progress in health facility births, family planning use, and child survival, HIV prevalence among adults age 15-49 is a staggering 25%. Not surprisingly, this was the only topic that received any press coverage following the June 15, 2016, LDHS national seminar.

Many Basotho, including those representing the Ministry of Health and agencies that provide HIV-related funding and program assistance, had been hoping to see a decline in HIV prevalence relative to 2009, the last time for which a national HIV prevalence estimate had been released. However, the 2014 data indicate that nationally, the prevalence has remained stable, while among women it has increased from 27% in 2009 to 30% in 2014.

Some stakeholders saw optimism in these figures:  a higher HIV prevalence may be the result of more HIV-positive women receiving anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy, and thereby surviving much longer than they would have without ARVs.  But of course, higher prevalence can also be due to more new infections. The LDHS also tested blood samples for HIV incidence, and these data were published as part of the Final Report for the first time ever in a DHS survey. The 2014 LDHS reports an HIV incidence rate of 1.9 new infections for every 100 person-years of exposure. In other words, for every 100 people, there is an average of 1.9 new infections per year. Despite prevention efforts, new infections are indeed entering the population.

There is still good news in the HIV community in Lesotho. Voluntary testing programs are far-reaching:  more than 80% of women and 60% of men in Lesotho have ever tested for HIV and received the results, up from 66% of women and 37% of men in 2009. Eighty percent of women who gave birth in the two years before the survey received HIV counseling during antenatal care, and 79% also were tested for HIV and received the results.

The positive effects of voluntary medical male circumcision are also demonstrated by the 2014 LDHS data:  only 14% of men who were medically circumcised tested positive for HIV compared to 21% among those were not circumcised or were traditionally circumcised only.

The 2014 LDHS has 17 chapters.  Only 2 of them are about HIV. And yet, it’s very hard to get attention on child mortality, nutrition, gender issues, or family planning when 25% of the adult population has HIV. And HIV does not exist in a vacuum; it affects the health of this country in many indirect ways as well. Child mortality is affected by children’s HIV status, as well as the status of their parents; HIV prevention behaviors must be considered within the lens of gender issues; and family planning cannot be separated from HIV education.

So despite the progress made in maternal and child health, the headlines are fair:  HIV is the predominant health concern in Lesotho. Continued development in all sectors of Lesotho is contingent upon the management of the HIV crisis. But if the reaction to the 2014 LDHS is any indication, stakeholders in Lesotho are poised to make data-driven decisions and to further mobilize resources to change the course of health in Lesotho.

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22 Aug

#DHSgames Final Recap

As the 2016 Olympics come to a close, so do the #DHSgames. Our final medalists are as follows:  Brazil, with seven gold, six silver, and six bronze medals for a total of 19 medals;  Azerbaijan, with one gold, seven silver and 10 bronze medals for a total of 18 medals; and Kazakhstan, with three gold, five silver and nine bronze medals for a total of 17 medals. Kenya is the runner-up with 13 medals, six of which are gold.

Several Olympic (OR) and world records (WR) were set by athletes from DHS countries:

  • OR:  Sukanya Srisurat, Thailand, women’s 58kg in weightlifting
  • OR & WR:  Nijat Rahimov, Kazakhstan, men’s 77kg in weightlifting
  • WR:  Almaz Ayana, Ethiopia, women’s 10,000m in athletics
  • OR & WR:  Wayde van Niekerk, South Africa, men’s 400m in athletics
  • OR:  Thiago Braz da Silva, Brazil, men’s pole vault
  • OR:  Conseslus Kipruto, Kenya, men’s 3000m steeplechase
  • OR:  Vivian Kepkemoi Cheruiyot, Kenya, women’s 5000m in athletics

Thank you to everyone who participated in The DHS Games! We hope you enjoyed our coverage of countries that we have worked with. If you particularly enjoyed our blog content, we encourage you to subscribe to receive weekly to biweekly updates.

You can also check out all the infographics shared throughout The DHS Games on Pinterest, as well as scroll through the #DHSgames feed for a look back at our Twitter coverage.

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19 Aug

#DHSgames Week Two – Round Two

It’s been another big week in the #DHSgames.

medal-count-8

Before the final weekend, Brazil moves into first place in our games with 15 medals – five gold, five silver, and five bronze. Kazakhstan slipped into second place – of its five medals, three are gold. Azerbaijan makes an entrance into the top three for the first time during these games with 10 medals. The last DHS in Azerbaijan was conducted in 2006. South Africa, with nine medals, is also a contender for the final medal count to be released on Monday after this weekend’s closing events.

Medals for DHS countries this week include Indonesia’s gold in mixed doubles badminton, Jordan‘s in men’s 68 kg taekwondo, and Ukraine‘s gold in the men’s 200m canoe sprint. The men’s welterweight boxing final ended in gold for Kazakhstan and silver for Uzbekistan. India and Tunisia both won bronze in the women’s 58 kg freestyle wrestling. It has been a big week for Brazil, with gold medals in women’s judo, men’s boxing, men’s pole vault, women’s sailing, and men’s beach volleyball.

With all the Track and Field that’s been happening this week, let’s talk about Kenya and Ethiopia in the distance races. In every marathon race since 1996, at least one Kenyan or Ethiopian has medaled (with the exception of one race, in which there was a medalist born in Ethiopia but competing for the US).  For this year’s #DHSgames, let’s do a mini medal count for the women’s distance events:

marathon10,000

1500-with-credit

In addition to the countries of Kenya and Ethiopia, you may notice another repetition in this medal count: Dibaba. The Dibaba sisters, Tirunesh and Genzebe, are part of what is called the fastest family on the planet (Mare Dibaba is unrelated). Tirunesh and Genzebe grew up in a hut without electricity. The 2011 Ethiopia DHS found that 23% of households have electricity—up from 13% in 2000. According to a profile of the sisters, their mother credits much of their success to having grown up on milk from the family’s cows.

We can use DHS data to examine topics such as nutrition in Ethiopia. Indicators can be examined in depth to see how they vary within a country by wealth or among other background characteristics. For example, in Ethiopia, anemia prevalence among children age 6-59 months decreases as household wealth increases.

Children with any anemia

We calculate wealth quintiles through the Wealth Index, which measures a household’s living standards according to assets (such as farm animals) rather than income. Indicators can then be broken down by wealth quintile to better understand patterns within a country.

Equestrian-Wealth-Index-AL

 

We’ll be watching to see how Ethiopia and Kenya do in the upcoming men’s marathon. The 2016 Ethiopia DHS is also ongoing, so stay tuned for those results as well. The excitement will continue even after the close of this year’s #DHSgames.

15 Aug

#DHSgames Week Two – Round One

It’s been an exciting week for the #DHSgames, particularly for female athletes of DHS countries. We support women’s empowerment, whether in the form of athletic achievement or as an indicator of development.

First, let’s review this week’s medal count. Kazakhstan is now in first place with ten medals, followed by South Africa  with seven medals, and Uzbekistan with six medals, replacing Thailand and Brazil from last week. Kenya is close behind with five medals – two gold and three silver.

We have witnessed many history-making firsts. Chierika Ukogu of Nigeria is the first African to compete in a rowing event, placing second in her women’s single sculls group. Nigeria is also making great strides in health. The 2015 Nigeria MIS Key Indicators Report shows malaria prevalence by microscopy decreased from 42% among children age 6-59 months in 2010 to 27% in 2015.

Dipa Karmakar is the first female gymnast from India to qualify, ranking 4th in the women’s vault finals. Though she was just .15 points short of winning the bronze, her presence and performance have made a huge impact. As early as 1992-93, data from the National Family and Health Surveys have allowed program managers and policy makers to make an impact on the health of India’s population.

Many new bars were set in athletics competition. Ethiopian long-distance runner Almaz Ayana crushed the world record while earning a gold medal in the women’s 10,000m race. The ongoing 2016 Ethiopia DHS will reveal where Ethiopia has made notable improvements in health indicators.

Jemima Sumgong became the first Kenyan woman to win gold for a marathon event. Kenya has made impressive gains in malaria prevention, where children’s use of insecticide-treated nets has increased by 50 percentage points in a little over a decade.

The #DHSgames will come to a close this weekend, so watch our Twitter feeds and subscribe to this blog to get our take on all the final events!

 

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12 Aug

#DHSgames Week One – Round Two

In our medal count to wrap up this first week of the #DHSgames, Kazakhstan moves into first place among DHS countries (and 12th overall), with seven total medals including gold in both swimming and weightlifting. Thailand is still going strong in 2nd place in the #DHSgames. Since our August 8th report, Thailand has earned an additional gold and silver, for a cumulative total of four medals, all in weightlifting. In 3rd place is Brazil, host of this year’s games and where the last DHS survey was conducted in 1996. Brazil won a gold and bronze in judo and a silver in 10m Air Pistol.

Clearly, weightlifting is a sport where DHS countries shine. Egypt has also done some heavy lifting. And we don’t just mean the heavy lifting Egypt has accomplished in maternal health, increasing skilled provider assisted births from 35% in 1988 to 92% in 2014.

via GIPHY

Two Egyptian weightlifters won medals this week. On Thursday, trailblazer Sara Ahmed became the first women from an Arab country to win an Olympic medal in any sport when she lifted 255 kg in the women’s 69 kg weightlifting event, taking home the bronze.

Speaking of women’s empowerment, Demographic and Health Surveys include women’s status and empowerment indicators such as literacy, education, employment, and control over earnings. Recent surveys also contain information on women’s participation in household decisions, attitudes toward wife-beating, and hurdles faced by women in accessing health care for themselves. As advances are made in empowering women worldwide, DHS surveys continue to measure progress. Congratulations to Sara Ahmed. This event was generally a big one for DHS countries—Kazakhstan’s Zhazira Zhapparkul took the silver!

In other Egyptian weightlifting news, Mohammed Ihab took home a bronze in the Men’s 77 kg event after he lifted 361 kg. With all this talk about weightlifting, let’s take a moment to talk about weighting in DHS surveys. Like many countries, the population in Egypt is not evenly distributed among governorates. In order to provide representative data at the governorate level for the 2014 Egypt DHS,  sampling weights were used. Reading DHS Tables provides more information about sampling and weighting in the 2014 Egypt DHS. Additionally, the video below provides a great introduction to the principles of DHS Sampling Weights.

You too can participate in the #DHSgames on Twitter and Facebook.  Until our next update on Monday, August 15, be sure to watch DHS countries compete in badminton, fencing, volleyball, field hockey, and handball. Track and field competition starts today, and we’re excited to cheer on the athletes in this piece of the #DHSgames!

08 Aug

#DHSgames Week One – Round One

Here’s the first medal count of the 2016 #DHSgames! Our top three medalists are Thailand, earning one gold and one bronze medal; Vietnam, winning one gold medal; and Kazakhstan, with one silver and one bronze. Thailand, a country whose last DHS survey was in 1987, won two medals in weightlifting events. Vietnam, whose last survey was an AIDS Indicator Survey in 2005, earned its first-ever gold medal in the 10m Air Pistol contest. Athletes in Kazakhstan, a country with two DHS surveys in the 1990s, won silver and bronze medals during judo competitions.

Other #DHSgames medal winners include Uzbekistan, South Africa, Philippines, Indonesia, and Brazil. Among these countries, Philippines released the latest DHS in 2013, though a South Africa DHS is currently ongoing.

Of particular note, the Philippines earned their first-ever medal in women’s weightlifting, which is also their first medal since 1996! In terms of global health success, almost all Filipino households have access to an improved source of drinking water.

In football news: the Brazil women’s national team is dominating the field with 6 points, while the Nigeria men’s national team is leading the way (6) with Mexico (4), Colombia (2), and Brazil (2) not far behind.

Our next medal count will take place August 12. In the meantime, be sure to follow #DHSgames on Twitter and Facebook!

Want to learn more about the #DHSgames? Read here>>

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03 Aug

Get into the Spirit of the 2016 #DHSgames

Click on >> to show the map’s legend.

With the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics, The DHS Program is kicking off its own event of sorts – The DHS Games!

If you have been following us since the summer of 2012, you may recall: The DHS Games are our way of celebrating the countries we work with (90 of which are participating in the actual Olympics). On social media, primarily on Twitter and Facebook, we will be keeping track of these ‘DHS countries,’ bringing attention to those that have completed a DHS survey since the 2012 London Olympics.

We will provide a statistical and global health perspective, as well as report on the competition and athletes themselves – though we will be rooting for everyone!


How can you keep up with The DHS Games, you ask? Make sure you follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and watch out for #DHSgames. We will be talking about this for the entirety of the Olympics, all 17 days!

We hope you observe #DHSgames with us! What teams are you rooting for? What sports are you going to follow? Do you have a favorite athlete? Let us know in the comments or on social media!

The information provided on this Web site is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

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