08 Mar

International Women’s Day through the lens of the India National Family Health Survey

For over 20 years, The DHS Program has collected information related to women’s empowerment, experience of spousal violence, women’s participation in decision making, and, more recently, women’s access to money and credit.

International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the progress women have made based on one of our most highly anticipated surveys. The 2015-16 India National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) comes 10 years after the previous 2005-06 India NFHS-3. Since then, early marriage (before the legal age) has become less common, more married women age 15-49 are participating in all 3 household decisions, and fewer men agree that wife beating is justified. Fertility is also approaching replacement level with women in India having an average of 2.2 children, down from 2.7 children per woman in 2005-06.

But there is still room for improvement. Less than one-third (31%) of married women age 15-49 in India are employed compared with 98% of men. 1 in 4 ever-married women have experienced spousal violence in the past 12 months and this proportion has remained unchanged in the last decade. Only 14% of women who have ever experienced violence have sought help to end the violence.

And for the first time, NFHS-4 provides district-level estimates for most indicators. Discover more in the 2005-16 NFHS-4 State Reports.

You can still get involved on International Women’s Day by sharing this infographic on women’s empowerment in India on Facebook. Compare other women’s empowerment indicators across over 90 countries using this easy-to-use mini-tool and even more on STATcompiler.

Download the 2015-16 India National Family Health Survey dataset here.

Photo Credit: © 2014 Prasanta Biswas, Courtesy of Photoshare

28 Feb

DHS Data in the News

Journalists worldwide use DHS, MIS, and SPA surveys as source data for essential stories – stories about domestic violence, HIV prevention, and child survival. Coverage of these topics brings awareness to these critical issues and often prompts policy change.

In any given month, DHS Program data are cited in hundreds of print, television, radio, and digital media across the world. While we can’t possibly review and share every example of accurate DHS data coverage in the news, we do highlight some of the best examples in The DHS Program’s News Room. The results from India’s 2015-16 National Family Health Survey have been featured in India’s biggest newspapers, and topics range from anemia prevalence to child marriage. A recent article from the Midrand Report in South Africa cites condom use data from the 2016 South Africa Demographic and Health Survey as an argument for voluntary male circumcision, and a Ghana News Agency article highlights adolescents’ needs for reproductive health services.

Using data from a reputable source like a DHS survey adds credibility and context to journalistic reporting. But covering topics such as mortality, fertility, and disease prevalence is not simple, and journalists often struggle to interpret DHS survey results and write about demographic and health data in language that is accessible for their audiences. Following a survey’s national release, The DHS Program’s dissemination team facilitates a workshop to educate journalists on reading and understanding DHS tables, accessing comparable data, and using data in reporting. Learn more about these media trainings in this reflections piece on a Journalist Workshop in Togo.

The DHS Program also has user-friendly tools, such as STATcompiler and the mobile app that allow journalists to verify the accuracy of DHS data used in their reporting. In addition to featuring news that accurately cites DHS data, we have a Journalists’ Guide to the Demographic and Health Surveys, available in both English and French. This guide provides tips on how journalists can properly use DHS data in their stories.

Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or email press@dhsprogram.com to share your accurate news story with DHS data for a chance to be featured in The DHS Program’s News Room.

Photo credits: 1) Officials from the Ethiopia Ministry of Health and Central Statistics Agency answer questions at the 2016 Ethiopia DHS National Seminar press conference; 2) Dr. Thet Thet Mu of the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports responds to questions from the press at the launch of the 2015-16 Myanmar DHS. © 2017 ICF

22 Feb

A New Way to Interact with your Favorite Indicators

We are pleased to showcase a new mini-tool on our website that allows you to quickly interact with indicators for topics such as family planning, gender, malaria, and nutrition. We have preselected 10-15 key indicators per topic that you can view by country or globally.

Simply navigate to your favorite topic to see a trend visualization from the most recently released survey. Then, select either a country or indicator within the drop-down menus to instantly see results. To start over, click “Reset” to return to the featured trend graphic.

Indicators are pulled from The DHS Program Application Programming Interface (API). As you click on a country or indicator within the data table, hyperlinks direct you to STATcompiler. There, you can compare even more indicators over time and geographically.

With the 1,000s of demographic and health indicators available, grouping key indicators by topic allows you to quickly interact with DHS data. Visit The DHS Program Topics page for a list of the featured topic pages containing the mini-tool.

What other topics do you want to see? Let us know what you think in the comments section below! Don’t forget to subscribe to The DHS Program newsletter for more updates on our digital tools, surveys, and more.

Photo Credit: © 2001 Marcel Reyners, Courtesy of Photoshare

31 Jan

IPUMS-DHS Unlocks Research Possibilities with New Contextual Data

Have you ever wondered if high-levels of precipitation affect birthweights and infant and child survival? Is increased use of insecticide-treated bed nets associated with lower incidence of malaria? Do children in households near battle zones or other violent contexts have higher levels of child malnutrition? Do some staple crop regimes promote better health outcomes than others?

Now with IPUMS-DHS, you can easily study these questions and others on how environmental and social contexts affect human health and behavior.

Using GPS coordinates, we’ve linked contextual variables drawn from many data sources directly to individual DHS survey respondent records. All context variables describe the features of a small geographic area (5-10 kilometers) surrounding each DHS survey cluster location.

New variables include:

  • Soil type
  • Ecoregion
  • Level of vegetation
  • Precipitation
  • Proportion of land area used for agriculture or pastureland
  • Total harvested area and yield for 17 major crops
  • Dominant livelihood
  • Population density
  • Counts of violent episodes
  • Incidence of malaria

Keep checking back! Over the next year, IPUMS-DHS will still be adding more contextual variables, including summary statistics calculated from large census-based samples.

Plan a new research project linking individual characteristics and outcomes with the surrounding context, and let us know about it. We’re always eager to hear how people are using IPUMS-DHS!


IPUMS-DHS is a system that makes it easy to find and review the thousands of DHS survey variables and to download a single fully-harmonized data file with precisely the variables and samples that interest you. The system currently includes variables from all DHS survey samples taken in India and 22 African countries; more samples are constantly being added.

For DHS survey samples with GPS cluster data that are not yet in IPUMS-DHS, the contextual variables are available in linkable CSV files.

To learn more about the IPUMS-DHS contextual variables, check out our Technical Note, Using IPUMS-DHS Contextual Variables, which provides much more detail.

10 Jan

Reflections on The DHS Program’s Regional Sampling Workshop

In some developing countries, the knowledge and methods for complex survey sampling can be capacity gaps in national statistical offices. In many cases, survey samples are prepared by statisticians who have limited academic and field experience in sampling. For this reason, The DHS Program has developed a Regional Sampling Workshop to provide a two-week face-to-face training on survey sampling. The target audience includes statisticians from African and Asian national statistical offices or implementing agencies who have been or will be involved in designing the sample for their country’s DHS survey. The DHS Program has facilitated two such workshops in Tanzania in 2016 and Indonesia in 2017.

In July 2017, my colleague Dr. Ruilin Ren and I facilitated the Regional Sampling Workshop in Bali, Indonesia. Fifteen participants from nine countries first completed pre-work online in preparation for attending the 12-day face-to-face workshop. The workshop focused on each step involved in survey sampling including sampling frame preparation, sample selection procedure, sample size determination, sample allocation, household listing, and weight calculation. Each day, participants were exposed to innovative blended learning methods, such as videos, demonstrations, exercises, and lectures.

In addition to the sampling topics, participants were introduced to the adult learning principles training package designed by DHS Senior Advisor for Capacity Strengthening, Abibata Handley. Through participatory sessions, participants learned how to apply effective training methods and techniques to teach complex sampling concepts. Participants worked together in groups to develop and facilitate a 60-minute “teachback” for one of the sampling topics and received feedback from the instructors. I was impressed by how creative all the groups were in facilitating their assigned sessions. Upon completion of the workshop, participants were ready to go back to their home institutions and teach sampling topics in an interesting way.

Many programs provide sampling training, but what makes The DHS Program’s capacity strengthening and training workshop unique is its combined use of traditional training approaches along with cutting-edge eLearning tools. This combination provides participants with practical skills that can be applied right away to support their country’s ongoing surveys. Participants receive the entire training package so they can, in turn, replicate the sampling training in their own country. The training package includes a Facilitator’s Guide and Participant’s Guide, presentations, and tools with detailed instructions on how to facilitate the activities, class exercises, and group projects.

In May 2017, I traveled to Yaoundé, Cameroon to provide technical assistance in the sample design for the 2017-18 Cameroon Demographic and Health Survey. During the trip, I worked with Romain Wounang, a Survey Statistician at the National Institute of Statistics (INS) of Cameroon, who attended the first Regional Sampling Workshop in Tanzania in 2016. In addition to his background and experience in survey statistics, the new skills that Romain acquired from the workshop allowed for a smooth collaboration in designing the sample for the Cameroon DHS. This experience was a success, as I witnessed a participant perform and apply the sampling techniques covered in the workshop to the sample design of the Cameroon DHS.

Another workshop participant, John Bore from Kenya, excelled and was approached to be a co-facilitator for a Tanzania-specific sampling workshop. When asked to help with the training, without hesitation John accepted and lead several sessions. As he kicked off the workshop, John introduced himself:

“Good morning everyone. My name is John Bore. I am a Senior Statistician from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. Eight months ago, I myself was sitting in your seats. I was a participant at the first-ever DHS Program Regional Workshop on Sampling and Listing that was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in July 2016. Today, I am here as a co-facilitator. It’s an honor to be co-facilitating this workshop along with our DHS sampling expert, Dr. Ruilin Ren.”

To date, The DHS Program has trained 31 samplers and consultants in regional workshops.  Although the sampling workshop is just one activity in a long process to prepare professional sampling statisticians, I believe conducting such trainings is a win-win strategy for the participants, implementing agencies, and for The DHS Program.

Photo captions: 1) Participants from the 2016 Regional Sampling Workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; 2) Participants from the 2017 Regional Sampling Workshop in Bali, Indonesia; 3) Survey sampling online pre-work  course sections; and  4) John Bore, co-facilitator at the Tanzania-specific sampling workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

27 Dec

The Best of DHS 2017

Another year has passed at The DHS Program, and we’re looking back at some of our best moments throughout the year! Just to name a few:


  • We introduced the first DHS Program online sampling course.

 Happy New Year from The DHS Program!

Watch the full video here:

14 Dec

Inside The DHS Program: Q&A with Gulnara Semenov

Name: Gulnara Semenov

Position title: Senior Medical Officer

What is your role at The DHS Program? I served as Regional Coordinator for Anglophone Africa, Asia, Europe and Eurasia and as a survey manager for DHS and Service Provision Assessment (SPA) surveys for the last 15 years. I was responsible for negotiating scope, content, logistics, and budgets for both DHS and SPA surveys, in addition to working with survey stakeholders to develop, manage, and train staff for surveys. I recently started as Senior Medical Officer and will provide technical support for all health-related aspects of DHS Program surveys. I will also work on new health-related modules and represent The DHS Program in various technical working groups.

Languages spoken: Russian and English

Favorite DHS Program survey cover (country, survey type, and year): I love covers that open your eyes to the people we describe in the report. My all-time favorite is the 2005-06 Honduras DHS cover featuring the Maya numeral system; I think it is an incredibly cool cover showing that science and art are closely related.

I also like the 2005 Armenia DHS and 2010 Armenia DHS covers featuring miniatures from the medieval Armenian illuminated manuscripts, a very refined and remarkable art form showing the character of the people they represent.


What has been the biggest change in The DHS Program during your time here? The most obvious is using the computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI) system for data collection. We started collecting information using paper questionnaires, and now we are moving towards using electronic devices to collect data, which requires a different kind of technical assistance and skills from the interviewers. The DHS Program has also expanded the questionnaires which are now much larger and cover lots of subjects. We added additional trainings and biomarkers which require various skills and expertise from The DHS Program staff.

What work are you most proud of? Hard to single out, but I think the most rewarding is to be part of The DHS Program family and work side by side with my colleagues who are all remarkable professionals. They demonstrate exceptional examples of work ethic ensuring countries receive the best technical assistance the survey deserves to maintain the reputation of the DHS survey as the gold standard. The DHS program is truly dedicated to capacity building and it is always rewarding to hear from the colleagues that our technical assistance is very comprehensive and transparent in skills transfer.

What’s your favorite trip to date? Every new country is a surprise. I remember Egypt for its remarkable temples, art, history, and their wonderful people. I came to Cairo over the Easter break and was very surprised to learn it was a national holiday and the office was closed!

I was so surprised to find out how lush and green West Africa is when I first visited Ghana. I certainly love to go back to the countries of the former Soviet Union, my home region, to see for myself their achievements in building democracy over the last 20 years.

What developments in data collection or global health are you excited about right now?  Developments in technology are hard to ignore whether it is a personal device that can store tons of information or the availability of genetically tailored treatments to treat a specific form of cancer. I am very hopeful that global health is now more and more people-centered. It is amazing how a small mobile phone became a daily part of life for a person in every corner of the word.

22 Nov

Inside Angola’s First-ever DHS Survey

In 2017, three new countries joined the list of those who have implemented nationally representative and internationally comparable Demographic and Health Surveys, setting a baseline by which to measure progress on standardized health indicators. Earlier this year, Afghanistan and Myanmar released the results of their first DHS surveys, and as of June 30, Angola, too, could use the 2015-16 Angola DHS to make decisions based on comprehensive, reliable data.

Angola had previously implemented several Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS). By 2015, however, stakeholders were especially interested in HIV and malaria biomarkers, and the donor community and the National Institute of Statistics (INE) decided to fund and implement a DHS survey, known in Angola as the Inquérito de Indicadores Múltiplos e de Saúde (IIMS).

Implementing a DHS survey is always an immense undertaking, but doing it for the first time heightens the level of challenges. As a first-time implementing agency, INE didn’t have the benefit of lessons learned from previous surveys. The indicators were new to them, and many pieces of DHS-7 documentation were not yet available in Portuguese. The lab had never conducted some of the assays necessary for the HIV testing algorithm. Each stakeholder had its own wish list regarding questionnaire modules, biomarkers, and timelines.

INE, together with The DHS Program, worked to overcome these challenges. The Minister of Health’s forward to the report states,

“This report is the result of nearly 18 months of continuous work, from the preparation of the IIMS to its implementation, which included fieldwork, data processing and analysis of indicators.”

Behind this statement lie scenes of compromise, creative problem solving, and many hours of hard work. Stakeholders decided to limit biomarkers collected in order to prioritize the most pressing questions and expedite the timeline. Cartographers were added to teams to accelerate fieldwork and to improve the quality of household listing. Multiple technical assistance visits were made during fieldwork and lab testing of blood samples for HIV to ensure data quality on the part of teams who were new to DHS procedures. Through these collaborative strategies, the capacity of both INE and the  Serology Lab at the National Institute of Public Health to implement nationally representative surveys was greatly strengthened, building on their already high-quality work.

In his comments at the national seminar, the Secretary of the Ministry of Planning and Territorial Development described the magnitude of the IIMS survey. “It is because of the size of this undertaking,” he continued, “that we are able to accurately show the results of our public policies that were designed to improve lives.” The USAID/Angola Mission Director followed, asking, “Why invest in a DHS survey? To have data of this quality for the first time, particularly HIV prevalence in all provinces. But data are only useful if they are used in decision making.”

While INE’s has finished implementing Angola’s first DHS survey, the work continues. Program managers and policymakers, for the first time, can dive into the fullness of DHS data to make decisions that will improve the lives of Angolans.

Photo Caption: Presentation from the Angola National Seminar in Luanda, Angola.

16 Nov

José Miguel Guzmán Elected 2017 IUSSP Laureate

We are honored to announce that The DHS Program’s Regional Coordinator, José Miguel Guzmán, was recently named the 2017 International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) Laureate. He was elected by the IUSSP Council in recognition of his lifetime achievements in population issues and influence on research, training, and public policy.

Earlier this month, IUSSP organized the International Population Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, drawing more than 2,000 scholars, policymakers, and government officials to discuss the latest in population research. Each year IUSSP honors one of their members by bestowing its laureate award. The laureate honoree is nominated by IUSSP council members and selected by secret ballot. The candidate must be a member of IUSSP for 20 years and be nominated by five or more IUSSP members from different countries.

The DHS Program is proud of José Miguel’s contribution to population and social policy, capacity strengthening, research and service for the last four decades.  Congratulations, José Miguel Guzmán!

Watch the full Facebook Live stream of the IUSSP award ceremony in Cape Town, South Africa. Click here to watch on the IUSSP Facebook page, or watch the video below.

International Union for the Scientific Study of Population – IUSSP award ceremony
IUSSP Laureate ceremony in honor of José Miguel Guzman Molina

Posted by International Population Conference on Monday, October 30, 2017

José Miguel Guzmán, Regional Coordinator
Before joining The DHS Program, Dr. Guzman was the Chief of the Population and Development Branch at UNFPA, New York. Dr. Guzman brings to the regional coordinator role more than 25 years of experience in research, capacity strengthening, and data collection on population and health issues, including population dynamics and interlinkages with poverty, environment and climate change, aging and other related issues. Dr. Guzman has more than 15 years of experience in managerial and supervisory roles in international programs. Dr. Guzman has provided technical assistance to more than 30 countries, in Latin America,  Africa, and Asia and has extensive experience in translating data for non-technical audiences. Guzman has received several awards, including the 2017 IUSSP Laureate Award.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the International Population Conference Facebook Live Stream

01 Nov

From Participant to Facilitator: What I Learned From the DHS Fellows Program

I was part of a three-member team from Mulungushi University in Zambia accepted into the 2016 DHS Fellows Program. We were the second group of Fellows from our country, the first one in 2015 representing the University of Zambia.

The 2016 DHS Fellows Program opened the doors to my professional success. I interacted with fellow academicians from our continent; we shared and learned new ideas from highly experienced and seasoned scholars on how they use DHS data in their universities and countries. Apart from learning from my fellow academicians, the DHS Fellows facilitators, Drs. Wenjuan Wang and Shireen Assaf, helped me develop a better understanding of how to best use DHS data, how to select and apply appropriate analytical methods, and what limitations are in DHS data. Prior to participating in the Fellows Program, I had limited experience with these processes. DHS data is now core to my academic life – from teaching students analysis to conducting my own research. Since 2016, I have published five journal articles based on DHS data.

My participation in the DHS Fellows Program not only strengthened my professional development but also benefited my university. Upon completion of the Fellows Program, together with my team members, Mulenga Chonzi Mulenga and James Nilesh Mulenga, we trained academic staff and students on how to use DHS data in the classroom and research through two workshops and several courses. DHS data are now widely used among Mulungushi University students and lecturers for writing research articles and four-year undergraduate reports. Mulungushi University has recently started a Bachelor of Science in Demography (BSc DEM) Program. Most of the subject matter covered during the DHS Fellows workshops formed the BSc DEM course material, now a full-fledged program since the 2016/17 academic year.

One year after I completed the Fellowship, The DHS Program asked me to co-facilitate the first-ever Asian DHS Fellows Program. Honestly speaking, this was a life-changing experience as it allowed me to share the skills and knowledge gained over time with senior academicians from outside Africa. The time spent reviewing and commenting on the 2017 Fellows’ Working Papers broadened my perspective in looking at research. What was most gratifying was that they appreciated my comments which resulted in improved Working Papers. As a result, we found common ground to collaborate on future research. The successful experience working with Asian Fellows showcased the possibility and benefits of mixing scholars from Asia and Africa. I believe the use and understanding of DHS data are independent of where the group of scholars comes from, it’s about how informed and involved these two groups are in their respective countries which makes the difference in making the most out of DHS data. Such teams will benefit from one another through experiences that they will share with other Fellows.

I shall remain ever grateful to The DHS Program for the opportunities and look forward to more collaborations. I urge any person interested in conducting health-related research to utilize the rich resource of DHS data.

Have more questions about the DHS Fellows Program? Leave them in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to receive email alerts for new posts.

Photo Caption: Bupe co-facilitating the 2017 DHS Fellows Program in Bangkok, Thailand.

Bwalya Bupe Bwalya is a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Mulungushi University. He holds a Master of Arts in Population Studies. His passion for research includes topics such as nutrition, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, as well as adolescent and reproductive health. He has consulted on nutrition activities with organizations such as CARE International, Zambia, and the PATH-Thrive Project. He is also a professional member of the Monitoring and Evaluation Association, Peoples Health Movement-Zambia, Union for African Population Studies (UAPS), and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP). In addition, he has presented papers at several local and international conferences such as the 7th ADC-UAPS and 28th IUSSP IPC.

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