11 Jan

Measuring the SDGs: The Role of Household Surveys

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have replaced the Millennium Development Goals with broad and lofty aspirations ranging from health, education, and gender equality to clean energy and responsible consumption.

Sustainable Development GoalsBehind each Sustainable Development Goal is a series of targets and each target can be measured by one or more indicators. Many of the targets in the areas of good health, zero hunger, no poverty, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, and reduced inequalities can be measured directly from DHS surveys. In fact, in many cases, this information has been collected as part of the DHS for decades, and indicator data already exist.

For example, the second SDG, “Zero Hunger,” is supported by 8 targets. One of these is: “By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons” (Target 2.2).

Target 2.2 of SDGs

This is where DHS comes in. DHS surveys have measured the height and weight of children under 5 since the 1980s. These measurements are compared to international reference standards to calculate stunting and wasting.Trends in Stunting in South Asia

As DHS data in the STATcompiler show, 4 countries in South Asia have made progress in reducing stunting since the 1990s, but stunting in this region is still unacceptably high. Future surveys will assess whether or not they can achieve a 40% reduction (the international target) by 2025.

Similarly, the SDG for Good Health and Well Being includes a target on reducing childhood mortality: “By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births” (Target 3.2).

Childhood mortality data have been collected as a standard part of DHS surveys since 1985. While neonatal and under-five mortality have declined in many DHS countries, the target of 25 under-five deaths for every 1,000 live births is still a long way off for many. In Tanzania, for example, under-five mortality has dropped steadily since 1999 but is not yet near the international target.

Under-five mortality in East Africa

Other SDG-supporting indicators currently collected in DHS surveys include access to safe water and improved toilet facilities, early marriage, family planning demand satisfied, antenatal care coverage, and birth registration. Others are not part of the DHS standard questionnaire but are often collected in optional modules, such as the maternal mortality ratio, female genital cutting, and violence against women.

In addition, new questions were added to the DHS questionnaire at the beginning of DHS-7 (2013-2018). The data resulting from these questions are starting to appear in DHS final reports and respond to SDG indicators such as clean cooking fuel, tobacco use, internet access, bank accounts, and mobile telephone ownership. A new DHS module on accidents and injuries will respond to the SDG indicator on road traffic accidents. A full list of the DHS-related SDG indicators can be found on the SDGs page of the DHS website.

Demand for Family Planning videoBut as always, collecting data is not enough. The DHS Program is also working to make the DHS-related SDGs easier to find, interpret, and use. This past year we released a video tutorial on the complicated “Demand for Family Planning Satisfied” indicator, and worked with partner Blue RasterDemand for Family Planning video to create an SDGs Story Map.

In the coming year, you will see a standard SDGs table for the final reports, addition of an SDGs tag to facilitate location of SDGs in the STATcompiler, and expansion of the SDGs page on our website.

Stay tuned as we develop these tools. And in the meantime, we’ll be out in the field, collecting the data the world needs to monitor progress towards sustainable development.

21 Dec

Video: Best of DHS 2016

Take a look back at the highlights of The DHS Program from 2016…

The DHS Program welcomed several new staff members:


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The 2014 Lesotho DHS final report was released using a new final report format:


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Faster data, including the model datasets and bulk downloading of datasets using a download manager:


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French STATcompiler and Mobile App:


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Surveys, surveys, surveys:


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9 Regional Capacity Strengthening Workshops:


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And The DHS Program produced more than 80 publications:


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We hope you continue to follow us throughout 2017!

Watch the full video below:

 

07 Dec

Spotlight on New Staff: Julia Fleuret

Name: Julia Fleuret

Position title:  Survey Manager

Languages spoken: English and French

Favorite type of cuisine: Anything not involving hardboiled eggs.

Last good book you read: Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?: A Story of Women and Economics, by Katrine Marcal – very funny analysis/critique of traditional economic thinking.

When not working, favorite place to visit:  The northern California coast for gorgeous hiking/scenery.

Where would we find you on a Saturday?  Yoga, farmers’ market, library/bookstore – then back home for a baking project.

First time you worked with DHS survey data: During my first semester getting my MPH at Tulane I used Mali DHS data in a nutrition class.

What is on your desk (or bulletin board/wall) right now?  My desk is a mess, so let’s focus on the bulletin board: a postcard from Kansas City, a ticket from a highlife concert in Accra, art flyers from Kampala, and a snapshot (from the days of film cameras!) of a tailor’s door in Bamako.

2011 Uganda DHSWhat is your favorite survey final report cover?   I am partial to the 2011 Uganda DHS and its cheerful jumble of sunflowers, although that might be because I’ve been carrying it around for the last 6 months while supporting the 2016 Uganda DHS (which is currently in the field.)

Favorite chapter or indicator, and why?  I feel like nutrition is the foundation of health, so the children’s anthropometry results in Chapter 11 (Nutrition of Children and Adults) is one of the first things I look at in a report.

What’s your favorite way to access The DHS Program’s data?  I am in some ways a dinosaur, and I like hard copies of reports.

What population or health issue are you most passionate about?  Why? Since starting at the DHS I’ve become more interested in collecting data to understand more about disability in a population – both for the overall prevalence of disability but perhaps more interestingly, to look at health outcome disparities by disability status. We developed an optional module on disability for use in the Household Questionnaire (based on the Washington Group on Disability Statistics’ Short Set of Disability Questions) and it will be interesting to see if more countries adopt it and how they use those data.

What are you most looking forward to about your new position?  Well, I’ve been here for just under 18 months, so I’m not sure I’m new anymore – but I am really looking forward to seeing the data as they come out for Uganda, and working with the implementing agency to put out the Key Indicators Report and Final Report early next year.

What has been your biggest surprise so far?  The iodine test kits really work! I mean, I didn’t expect them to not work – but I felt like a magician actually turning the salt sample purple!

What do you look forward to bringing to The DHS Program (job-related or not!)? A sense of humor & the results of the aforementioned baking projects.

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16 Nov

From National to Local: A New Way to Leverage DHS Data

In DHS survey final reports, data are presented on a national or first-level administrative sub-national level. However, this is usually not the level at which program planning and decision making are truly happening. To support more decentralized decision making at lower administrative levels, data need to be presented on a more disaggregated level.

The DHS Program is producing a standard set of spatially modeled map surfaces for each population-based survey for a select list of indicators that provide smaller area estimates of data. Geostatistics are used to predict (interpolate) the indicator value for unsampled areas based on data from sampled data locations. DHS creates standardized modeled map surfaces using DHS survey data along with global covariate datasets. Currently, sets of standard surfaces are available for 16 surveys. Spatial data packages and stand-alone maps are available for download through The DHS Program’s Spatial Data Repository.

How can modeled map surfaces be used?

These new spatially modeled surfaces can help in several ways to improve decision making for many development sectors that include health, population, nutrition, and water and sanitation programs on multiple levels. Users can combine the maps with other resources to support:

  1. Monitoring and evaluation: analysis and evaluation of past initiatives (impact analysis) or understanding existing situations
  2. Program planning: future planning of appropriate programs and policies

Data in the modeled surfaces can be used to evaluate past programs or to better understand existing situations. Such evaluations can help to understand deviations from the norm, attribute cause, or to contribute to impact evaluations, which analyze what would have happened to the population of an area if a program had not been implemented.

Program managers can also use modeled surfaces to plan, target, and develop interventions and programs that aim to improve situations in targeted geographic areas. Interventions can be targeted more precisely, saving money, time, and human resources in the search for the most effective outcomes.

The matrix below shows potential approaches for monitoring and evaluating past and planning future programs using modeled surfaces.

This matrix is by no means comprehensive, and it is expected that map users will come up with many more potential uses after analyzing their particular situation and maps for their country.

To read more, please see the Spatial Analysis Report 14, “Guidance for Use of The DHS Program Modeled Map Surfaces.” The report delivers more in-depth information on what modeled surfaces The DHS Program is creating, as well as an explanation of their creation process. In addition, the report provides guidance on limitations and assumptions.

The DHS Program is looking forward to seeing how groups will use this new data product to enhance their activities. There is enormous potential for innovative uses of these modeled surfaces beyond those discussed in the report. Users are encouraged to submit ideas and case studies to The DHS Program (spatialdata@dhsprogram.com) as only a large community of users who share their experiences will fully expose the maps’ potential.


Aileen Marshall is the Knowledge Management/Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist at The DHS Program. She is responsible for planning, development, implementation and evaluation of the KM strategy, KM activities as well as the project-wide SharePoint site. Additionally, she is involved in measuring and evaluating capacity strengthening activities at DHS and works closely with all teams to ensure knowledge at DHS is captured, stored and shared efficiently among staff. Aileen holds an MA in English Linguistics from the Westfaelische Wilhelms-University in Muenster, Germany, and an MLIS from the University of South Carolina.

Trinadh Dontamsetti is the Health Geographic Analyst for The DHS Program. He contributes to geospatial analysis, mapmaking, and geographic data processing activities. His research interests include geospatial interpolation, tuberculosis, and vector arthropod-borne diseases.

 

Clara R. Burgert is the GIS Coordinator for The DHS Program. She oversees all  geographic data, mapping, and geospatial analysis activities at The DHS Program.  Additionally, she facilitates workshops in partner countries on using maps for better decision making using open source GIS software.

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02 Nov

Enfin, STATcompiler et l’Appli Mobile du DHS Program disponibles en français

L’attente est finie! Le STATcompiler et l’Appli Mobile du DHS Program sont désormais disponibles en français.  Saviez-vous que 30 % des enquêtes du DHS Program sont réalisées dans pays francophones ? Notre objectif est d’augmenter l’utilisation de nos données par nos collègues francophones.  Ces deux outils placent plus de 250 enquêtes de 90+ pays au bout de vos doigts et ils satisferont vos besoins des données démographiques et de santé numériques.

Le STATcompiler permet aux utilisateurs de créer des tableaux personnalisés et visualiser les données avec des histogrammes, graphiques linéaires, et cartes thématiques. Arrivé à la page d’accueil de STATcompiler, les utilisateurs peuvent choisir leur langue préférée: Page d'accueilfrançais ou anglais. Si vous êtes en milieu francophone, les paramètres de STATcompiler choisiront automatiquement le français comme la langue de défaut, ainsi que l’anglais pour ceux en milieu anglophone. N’inquiétez pas, vous pouvez toujours changer la langue en sélectionnant  « English » ou « Français »  comme le graphique à gauche indique.

 

Commencer en choisissant les indicateurs et les pays qui vous intéressent. Un tableau sera produit avec les données que vous avez choisies.

Tableau et indicateur

 Après, visualiser ces données avec des histogrammes, graphiques linéaires, et cartes thématiques. Voilà, une carte des ménages qui disposent d’électricité.

Carte

L’Appli Mobile présente 125 indicateurs pour toutes les enquêtes du DHS Program, y compris la désagrégation par des caractéristiques sociodémographiques, telles que régions infranationales, niveau d’instruction et quintiles de bien-être économique. L’Appli Mobile permet aux utilisateurs à explorer par pays ou par indicateur pour voir les tendances et les comparaisons entre les pays. Vous trouvez-vous loin d’une connection d’internet? L’appli est aussi disponible pour l’accès en mode déconnectée.

appli3

promptLes utilisateurs actuels de l’Appli seront avertis par un message sur l’écran d’accueil de l’appli qui indique qu’elle est maintenant disponible en français et fournit des instructions pour comment changer les paramètres des langues. Pour les nouveaux utilisateurs, l’Appli ouvrira la premère fois selon les paramètres de langue de l’appareil. Les utilisateurs anglophone pourront tous basculer facilement entre les deux langues dans les paramètres de l’Appli.

Télécharger l’Appli Mobile gratuitement pour les appareils Android et iOs.

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26 Oct

DHS Fellows at Obafemi Awolowo University Strengthen Capacity of Nigerian Researchers

Participants at the July 2016 DHS data analysis workshop by OAU Fellows

The DHS Fellows Program aims not only to build individual capacity to conduct research with DHS data but also to strengthen the institutional capacity of universities in Africa. Over the years, DHS Fellows have implemented their own capacity strengthening activities in various forms at their home universities and have contributed to the increased use of DHS data in academia in Africa. DHS Fellows from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Nigeria have been particularly successful in building their home university’s capacity to use DHS data and expanding activities outside of OAU, continuing them for years even after the conclusion of their fellowship.

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Participants at the July, 2013 DHS data analysis workshop by OAU Fellows

As early as 2010, OAU started introducing DHS data in a departmental seminar series for staff and postgraduate students, initiated by a 2010 DHS Fellow and the head of the Department of Demography and Social Statistics at the time, Dr. Samson O. Bamiwuye. When three more faculty members Drs. Akinlo, Bisiriyu, and Esimaijoined the Fellows program in 2012, they were able to scale-up activities to host their first DHS data analysis workshop for OAU faculty. Meanwhile, with the support of Professor Peter Ogunjuyigbe, another head of the Department of Demography, the Fellows successfully integrated the use of DHS data into undergraduate and postgraduate curricula. DHS data use in final year projects was recommended for all undergraduate students in the department.

Through 2014, the team – joined by Dr. Akinyemi, another 2010 DHS Fellow– continued to host trainings to teach participants how to appropriately analyze DHS data. Moreover, they expanded their reach to participants from other universities and non-academic research institutions across Nigeria. They also experimented with charging a small fee to cover production of teaching materials and other logistical costs, which encouraged participants to make full use of workshop time. Given their expertise in DHS data use, Fellows have also been invited by other organizations to train staff on DHS data. For example, Dr. Akinolo was invited to facilitate a data analysis workshop at the National Population Commission.

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Participants at the Further Analysis of DHS capacity building workshop at the National Population Commission, Abuja, Nigeria, 2016

In 2016, another three members from the OAU Department of Demography and Social Statistics – Drs. Asa, Titilayo, and Kupoluyi – were selected to participate in the Fellows Program. The 2016 team worked with former Fellows and continued the Nigerian capacity strengthening activities. Two more workshops were organized that included OAU faculty as well as participants from Federal University in Oye-Ekiti, Bowen University, Iwo, University of Ibadan, National Bureau of Statistics, Academy for Health Development, OAU Health Centre, and Research & Marketing Services. These workshops aimed to raise the awareness of DHS data, teach participants how to use STATA software and DHS datasets to conduct research, and encourage collaboration and multidisciplinary approaches in research. Feedback from the workshop participants indicates the team’s success in achieving these aims:

“This workshop is the first of its kind where we were given the opportunity to undergo intensive training on the use of DHS datasets in STATA. The workshop improved my level of interpretation of results and capacity in assisting students in their use of statistical software and analysis.”

“The use of STATA in analyzing DHS data has enabled me to carry out trend analysis of various factors in the NDHS data which I have used in write-ups for further career development.”

“After the training workshop, I have been able to maximize my new skills to consolidate and conceptualize my research ideas using a DHS dataset. A one-year post-training plan was thereafter developed and efforts are being made to ensure that I meet the set targets.”

All DHS Fellows from OAU, also known as “Team Nigeria,” embody commitment and hard work, going beyond the objective of The DHS Fellows Program to strengthen institutional capacity. Between 2012 and 2016, Team Nigeria has trained over 100 participants from a variety of universities and organizations in Nigeria. Their ultimate (and likely attainable) goal is to become the training center for complex data analysis in the region.

Interested in applying to the 2017 DHS Fellows Program? We are accepting applications until December 2 2016. Learn more>>

Thank you to Drs. Asa, Kupoluyi, and Titilayo, who contributed to this blog post.

Dr. Sola ASA is a Demographer and a Biostatistician. Sola teaches at the Department of Demography and Social Statistics, Faculty of Social Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria as a Senior Lecturer. His main research interests include maternal and child health, reproductive health, survey methodology and statistical techniques. His research has been published locally and internationally.

Dr. Joseph Ayodeji KUPOLUYI is a Lecturer at the ObafemiAwolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He lectures in the Department of Demography and Social Statistics. He holds degrees in Demography and Social Statistics. His areas of interest are in maternal and child Health, family planning, and reproductive health issues.

 

Dr. Ayotunde TITILAYO holds a Ph.D. in Demography and Social Statistics. He is a faculty member of the Department of Demography and Social Statistics of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. His research and publication interests span across maternal and child health, gender-based domestic violence, and reproductive health matters. He also teaches social research methodology courses.

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18 Oct

Reflections from Elizabeth Nansubuga, a 2013 DHS Fellow

I was a DHS Fellow in 2013, part of a three-person team from the “Harvard of Africa,” Makerere University. The DHS Fellows Program came at a time when I had just enrolled for my doctoral studies in South Africa. As part of my doctoral studies, I had to apply advanced statistical techniques in analyzing maternal health-seeking behavior in Uganda using DHS data. Hence, the fellowship could not have come at a better time! It remains a remarkable experience to date, one that continues to impact my professional career.

Elizabeth Nansubuga co-facilitating the 2016 DHS Fellows workshop

Throughout The DHS Fellows Program, we were introduced to how to appropriately use DHS data and several analytical techniques using STATA software. These techniques were very useful in my doctoral studies. With the knowledge I acquired during the fellowship, I became known as a DHS data ‘expert’ among my peers and faculty colleagues and was able to share with them correct methods to analyze DHS data. It should come as no surprise that my Fellows teammate, Simon Kibira, acquired a further interest in the topic we worked on – male circumcision and HIV. He went on to pursue doctoral studies on the same topic.

After completing my doctoral studies at North West University, I returned to Makerere University and became a lecturer, which meant I would be teaching additional postgraduate courses. I have since been able to incorporate DHS data into my teaching materials. This was made easier with resources such as STATcompiler, DHS model datasets, and the mobile app – just a few of the numerous resources that Fellows are introduced to. And notably, since the fellowship, I had more confidence in supervising projects which used DHS data.

Sarah Staveteig, Patricia Ndugga, Elizabeth Nansubuga, and Wenjuan Wang after a presentation at The DHS Program headquarters

Later I had an opportunity with Ms. Patricia Ndugga, another former DHS Fellow and a colleague at Makerere University, to present our research based on DHS data to DHS staff at their Rockville, Maryland headquarters. Patricia presented an excerpt of her doctoral work, “Fertility preferences among postpartum women in Uganda.” Using the 2014-15 Uganda Malaria Indicator Survey, I presented my analysis “Determinants of three-dosage malaria intermittent preventive treatment among pregnant women in Uganda.” Here, we also received good feedback that greatly improved our work!

Afterward, I was invited to co-facilitate workshops during the 2016 Fellows Program. While I was happy to assist and share my knowledge and experiences, it was also an opportunity for me to continue enhancing my knowledge on DHS data and analytical skills, as well as to network with colleagues from other African countries.

Truly, there is nothing like The DHS Fellows Program that enhances one’s analytical and writing skills. It is also a Fellowship that enhances capacity building in universities. I encourage faculty engaged in demographic and health research to take advantage of this fellowship while it is offered.

Thanks to Elizabeth for contributing to The DHS Program blog! If you are interested in becoming a DHS Fellow, we are currently accepting applications for the 2017 program. Learn more here>>

Read some of Elizabeth and Patricia’s published work:

ELIZABETH NANSUBUGA is a faculty member in the Department of Population Studies at Makerere University, Uganda. She holds a Ph.D. in Population Studies. She is passionate about research that impacts policy and society. Her research interests are geared towards the improvement of maternal and child health with a major focus on characterization of maternal near misses. Her other research interests include sexually transmitted diseases, circumcision and gender issues. Her work is published in peer-reviewed journals. She is a recipient of several prestigious fellowships including the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholar, Population Reference Bureau Policy Communication Fellow, DHS Fellow, and African Doctoral Dissertation Fellow, among others. She has done consultancy work for several national and international organizations in the area of population and reproductive health. She is a member of several professional associations such as Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA), Population Association of America (PAA), and Union for African Population Studies (UAPS).

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05 Oct

Social Good Summit 2016: How DHS data can help measure progress towards meeting the Global Goals

We were fortunate to have attended the UN Foundation’s Social Good Summit again which, through a variety of vibrant speakers from US UN Ambassador Samantha Power to actor and activist Alec Baldwin, emphasized the recently-adopted 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals.

While we thoroughly enjoyed all of the sessions and speakers, we were particularly moved listening to Joyce Banda on challenges for women in public office, advocates from the Malala Fund inspiring conversation about the importance of education for girls and refugees, and Memory Banda describing life for girls in Malawi and taking a stand against child marriage.

At this year’s summit, it was again made clear that the collection of quality data is vital. Data will measure progress towards the SDGs. As DHS data supported collection and reporting of data for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it is expected to contribute to the measurement of as many as 13 of the 17 SDGs.

Since 2013, before the SDGs were officially determined and announced, The DHS Program was involved in dozens of meetings to determine the feasibility of collecting data required to measure SDG indicators in DHS surveys. After careful review of all 230 SDG indicators, we highlighted 86 that are population-based and feasible through household or facility surveys.  Of these, we have classified 32 that are already in our questionnaires and modules, and 20 that require minor additions or changes to questions and reporting. Below are just a few examples:

Goal 3: Proportion of women age 15-49 who have their need for family planning satisfied with modern methods. Learn more>>

Goal 5: Proportion of women age 15-49 who make their own informed decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use, and reproductive health care. Learn more>>

Goal 6: Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services. Learn more>>

Goal 7: Proportion of population with access to electricity. Learn more>>

Goal 16: Proportion of children under 5 whose births have been registered with a civil authority, by age. Learn more>>

By the time the next summit rolls around, we hope to have integrated those indicators that are feasible and practical for collection in a DHS survey into all DHS tools. In the meantime, you can watch the 2016 Social Good Summit live stream and check out what we were saying during the summit.

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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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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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