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.

18 Oct

The DHS Fellows Program Continues in both Asia and Africa in 2018

The overarching objective of the DHS Fellows Program is to build institutional capacity of universities in DHS countries to analyze DHS data. The underlying belief of the DHS Fellows Program is that by working with university faculty, whose job is to educate the future government officials, policymakers, and program managers in their countries, the program will create sustainable capacity in the country for the use of DHS data.

Since 2011, the Fellows Program has trained about 100 researchers from over 30 universities in 18 DHS countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Fellows have produced a number of high-quality research papers that are published on The DHS Program website. Most of these papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

In addition to producing sound research based on DHS data, the Fellows Program has substantially increased institutional capacity to analyze DHS data through the Fellows’ capacity strengthening activities in their home universities. Fellows have integrated DHS data into the curriculum, held department seminars and research meetings for DHS data sensitization, mentored graduate students to use DHS data in dissertations, and conducted DHS data analysis workshops for students and/or faculty. Many of these activities continue after the Fellowship ends. For example, Nigerian Fellows from Obafemi Awolowo University have conducted their own annual training on DHS data analysis since 2012 and trained over 100 participants from a variety of organizations in Nigeria to use DHS data.

The Fellows Program has primarily focused on universities in sub-Saharan African countries, but in 2017, the Program was implemented in Asia and the Middle East.

Six teams from Cambodia, Egypt, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines analyzed DHS data to address a variety of research questions including contraceptive use dynamics in Egypt, postpartum family planning in Nepal, women’s empowerment and maternal health service utilization in Southeast Asia, low birth weight in Cambodia, and use of traditional contraception in the Philippines. Before the Fellowship ended, five teams had submitted their papers to peer-reviewed journals. We look forward to seeing their research published in more journals and contributing to related literature.

In 2018, we are pleased to announce that the DHS Fellows Program will cover both Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. We are currently accepting applications from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Malawi, Myanmar, Nepal, South Africa, Timor-Leste, and Zimbabwe. Click below to apply on The DHS Program website. Leave any questions or comments below and let us know if you applied!

Photo caption: Participants from the 2017 DHS Fellows Data Users Workshop in Bangkok, Thailand.

12 Oct

The New Nutrition Team

Hemoglobin analysis in DHS surveys in carried out with a portable HemoCue analyzer.

Did you know that nutrition is one of the most published topics using data from The DHS Program? This shows what a major resource The DHS Program is for nutrition-related policy, programs, and research. Recognizing the important contribution of nutrition data, two new nutrition experts have recently joined The DHS Program team, Drs. Sorrel Namaste and Rukundo K. Benedict.

As our new nutrition experts, they will manage all aspects of nutrition data collection and use, working to:

  • Ensure provision of high-quality nutrition data within The DHS Program
  • Explore innovations for nutrition data in low- and middle-income countries
  • Support evidence-based programming and policies with relevant and timely nutrition data
  • Build capacity in nutrition data measurement, analysis, and use around the world

Some of The DHS Program’s recent activities on nutrition include the new Hemoglobin report, and we are also currently seeking applications for the 2018 DHS Fellows Program. To stay up-to-date with more nutrition activities, sign up for our upcoming nutrition newsletter.

So join us in welcoming our new nutrition team in the comment section, and learn more about them in their bios below. If you still have any questions or comments, you can reach out to them directly at nutrition@dhsprogram.com.


Dr. Sorrel Namaste is the Senior Nutrition Technical Advisor for The DHS Program. She is an epidemiologist with expertise in nutrition assessment and implementation research. Dr. Namaste has a particular interest in the use of data to strengthen the feedback loop between the scientific, policy, and implementation communities. Prior to joining The DHS Program, she was the Anemia Team Lead for the USAID-funded SPRING project. In this capacity, she provided technical assistance to governments to develop national strategies, supported program implementation, and contributed to the formation of global policies. Previously, she also worked for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where she was responsible for supporting large-scale global nutrition research projects. While at NIH, she served as the co-principal investigator on the Biomarkers Reflecting Inflammation and Nutrition Determinants of Anemia (BRINDA) Project. She completed her DrPH at George Washington University and holds an MHS from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Global Epidemiology.

Dr. Rukundo K. Benedict is a Nutrition Technical Specialist for The DHS Program. She is a public health nutrition practitioner with expertise in infant and young child feeding (IYCF), water-sanitation hygiene (WASH), community health systems and the delivery of integrated interventions in low-resource settings. Prior to joining The DHS Program, she worked as a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University on policy and program relevant projects. She led a project with UNICEF South Asia to examine the epidemiology of breastfeeding in South Asia and to explore the effectiveness of strategies to support breastfeeding and maternal nutrition and infant feeding counseling. She also conducted implementation research on the delivery of nutrition and nutrition sensitive interventions by community health workers in the Sanitation Hygiene Infant Nutrition Efficacy (SHINE) trial in rural Zimbabwe. She has a PhD in International Nutrition from Cornell University and an MSPH from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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Photo Caption: Hemoglobin analysis in DHS surveys in carried out with a portable HemoCue analyzer

28 Sep

The Social Good Summit: What Impact Do Future Generations Have on the SDGs?

The stage opened to the first-ever Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, reciting her original poem, “The Gathering Place.” The poem perfectly captured the importance of youth in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and what the summit was about: “gathering to do good, so the world might be great.”

On Sept 17, 2017, the United Nations Foundation, United Nations Development Programme, 92nd Street Y, and Mashable teamed up to bring the Social Good Summit back to New York City. The summit gathered together world leaders, global health advocates, social influencers, and artists from all over the world to discuss how we can positively impact future generations, and how technology and innovation can work to make the world better by 2030 through the achievements of the SDGs.

Amanda Gorman was not the only young person to present at the Social Good Summit. Muzoon Al-Mellehan, 19-years-old and the youngest UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, discussed how children are the foundation of communities and that “without education, we are nothing.” Youth Observer to the United Nations (UN), Munira Khalif, shared her thoughts on the importance of having meaningful engagement with young people and that bringing them to the table will make progress on the Global Goals.

Youth action was again put in the spotlight when 18-year-old Angela Jiang, Girl Up Teen Advisor, had a conversation with musician Madame Gandhi on using social media as a platform to control your own narrative. Khaled Khatib, a 22-year-old cameraman for the Syria Civil Defense, used film as his platform to share stories of how his organization, The White Helmets, saved over 99,000 lives.

Youth today come in many forms, from artists to advocates to leaders. The Social Good Summit showed the world that anyone, big or small, can make a change for the better.

But youth were not the only ones to bring inspiration to future generations. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, and Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO of UNICEF USA, reiterated the importance of giving youth a voice and unlocking their potential to making the world a better place. Even award-winning actress, Whoopi Goldberg, encouraged everyone of all ages to take part.

Not only have young people made their presence known at the Social Good Summit, but also in the data we collect. The DHS Program interviews youth age 15-24 on all DHS survey topics with a special focus on reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, gender issues, and education.

So what can you do to get started helping global youth gain a platform to speak? Get informed. Start with STATcompiler to compare trends in youth indicators across 90+ countries. Let’s continue to make progress in sustainable development through exploration of technology and digital media to make the world a better place by the year 2030.

If you missed the live event, you can relive the entire summit on Mashable’s Livestream page.

Photo caption: Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, opens the 2017 Social Good Summit in New York with a poem. (Photo from the Social Good Summit Live Stream)

07 Sep

Providing Geospatial Covariate Data for Use with DHS Datasets

When users of The DHS Program’s survey data request access to our geospatial data, they usually do so with the intention of linking survey cluster location data to outside datasets – such as rainfall measurements, population density, and distance to road networks. These additional data, when coupled with geographic location, are known as spatial covariates and may shed light on the impact of location on health outcomes. However, linking these covariates to geographic data can often be a challenge as multiple sources of these covariate data exist, often with varying quality. It can be difficult for researchers to know which data source will provide the covariate data that will best complement the GPS cluster data they acquire from The DHS Program.

Having recognized both the demand for DHS geospatial data and the subsequent challenge in linking them to spatial covariates, the DHS Geospatial team endeavored to prepare and make a freely available set of standardized geospatial covariate datasets which do away with the need for linking to clusters’ GPS location data. This allows individuals with little to no Geographic Information Systems (GIS) experience to conduct geospatial statistical analysis in software such as STATA, SAS, or SPSS. Even experienced GIS analysts may benefit from these datasets as they no longer have to take the time to source the proper covariate data and link them to cluster GPS data themselves.

After gathering data from users and experts, we identified the covariates that are most commonly used in published literature in conjunction with The DHS Program’s survey data, that included key topic areas. Further, we reached out to users to get a sense of how they would potentially utilize and benefit from a set of spatial covariates prepared in-house. As a result of these two activities, we identified dozens of potential covariates that are used or that users would like to use in conjunction with our geospatial data.

Working closely with our partners at Blue Raster, we then extracted, at each displaced DHS survey cluster, measurements of selected geospatial covariates. These covariates were selected if they: a) had global or regional extent, b) were publicly available, c) had well-documented acquisition or creation processes with detailed metadata, and d) were available for relevant time frames.

We strove to include those covariates that would be in high demand by our users, including rainfall, ITN net coverage, cases of malaria, travel times to nearest cities, urbanization, and more. A detailed methodology used to extract them can be found on the Spatial Data Repository website.

We hope the spatial covariate datasets will prove to be valuable for a wide range of DHS data users. We are continuing to look into ways to further improve the datasets, including the extraction process used to create these files and release similar extracts for other covariates that weren’t addressed in the first round of this activity. User feedback will be critical in helping us understand what is truly desired out of these datasets, so we strongly encourage those who download and use these files to email us with their thoughts, advice, and requests for future covariates.

Photo Caption: GIS participants at the 2017 Regional Health Data Mapping Workshop in Cambodia.

24 Aug

How Things Have Changed! Looking Back at Data Distribution Practices from 20 Years Ago

A lot can change in 20 years. For The DHS Program, it’s the difference between over 250 datasets for 70 separate surveys to more than 10,000 datasets from over 300 surveys. The contents of the model survey questionnaires changed radically, as did the media used for data distribution. And two decades ago, the internet had only recently emerged as a potential means of communication around the world!

It might be hard to imagine life without internet access today – for us, we rely on the internet for many of our activities. In 1995, The DHS Program established a website which had the basics: an informational brochure, survey statuses, fact sheets, press releases, and newsletters.

Though the website has been updated several times since then, it still has these basic features. The crucial difference lies in how we only provided an archive of publications and data and information on how to place an order for them. Yes, users had to pay for the cost of media – which, at the time, included diskettes (AKA a floppy disk), Bernoulli cartridges, and CD-ROMS – and shipping. At one point, we were deciding on whether to charge for the data itself, to ensure the fullest use of the data.

That decision was part of a proposal from 20 years ago, which proposed the following data dissemination over the internet:

  1. DHS data
  2. India NFHS data
  3. Report text
  4. Online newsletter (tentatively named ‘DHS Discoveries’)
  5. User forum

These look familiar, don’t they? Today, both reports and datasets are free and available over the internet for download (though we still require users to apply for access to datasets), we email our newsletter to subscribers (which includes news, new publications and datasets, and articles that have cited DHS data), and the User Forum has been live since February 2013.

The DHS Program has utilized the internet beyond what was proposed 20 years ago; to name only a few ways, the creations of STATcompiler, development of eLearning courses for data visualization and social media for global health, and utilization of social media to engage with our users. And if you want to know what is coming next, be sure to Follow or Like us on social media, subscribe to our newsletter or even this very blog you are just a few clicks away!

This blog post is based on the rediscovery of the paper prepared for the Population Association of America (PAA) meeting back in 1996. Go back in time and read the original paper here!

09 Aug

The First-ever DHS in Myanmar: The Value of a Nationally Representative Survey

2015-16 Myanmar DHS Final ReportMany DHS countries have completed 3, 4, or 5 surveys, and look forward to their next DHS to examine trends and assess progress. But the 2015-16 Myanmar Demographic and Health Survey (MDHS) was the first DHS conducted, providing, for the first time ever, internationally comparable and nationally representative DHS data. For Myanmar, this is an especially meaningful achievement, as some areas of Myanmar have previously been too insecure for inclusion in national surveys.

The Myanmar DHS team, including the Ministry of Health and Sports, USAID/Burma, the 3MDG Fund, and ICF staff decided at the beginning of the survey process to prioritize inclusion of all people in Myanmar. This meant that many extra efforts were taken to collect data in even the hardest-to-reach areas, including clusters that had previously been unreachable by survey programs due to insecurity and violence. Deliberate efforts were made to hire interviewers from all regions and states and to ensure that interviewers could speak minority languages. In one case, data collection teams traveled to a selected cluster in ambulances to ensure fieldworker safety. Extensive advocacy efforts took place before the survey teams arrived at sensitive locations to make certain that communities were informed about the survey and felt comfortable participating. Ultimately, 98% of selected households participated in the MDHS. You can read more about sampling here.

With the 2015-16 MDHS, Myanmar joins the DHS club with nationally representative, transparent, and freely available data for decision makers in Myanmar and worldwide. During the national seminar releasing the MDHS data, the Minister of Health urged 150 eager audience members,

“I do not want this survey to be on a shelf… it must be on the desk of program managers and state and regional health directors”.

The Ministry of Health and Sports has been working towards this goal, holding dissemination workshops in all 15 states and regions in May.

As someone who has been with The DHS Program for 13 years and helped to support dozens of surveys, the release of a new survey final report never gets old. But in Myanmar, the survey signifies more than new data. It represents a new era in Myanmar where information is shared, all people are included, and representative data are used to inform decision making.

All of us at The DHS Program offer our congratulations to the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports. Your hard work and dedication over the last two years have paid off. We look forward to working with you again. And next time we can talk about trends.

Representatives of the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports, USAID, the 3MDG Fund, and other key stakeholders share the results of the 2015-16 Myanmar DHS on March 23, 2017, in Nay Pyi Taw.

26 Jul

Five Ways IPUMS-DHS Can Simplify Your Life

Have you ever formatted what you thought were your final models only to discover that:

  • The survey question you used for your dependent variable had five rather than four variations across surveys?
  • There are two other samples (not in your analysis) in which respondents were asked precisely the question that interests you?
  • There is a better question on women’s employment than the one you’re currently using?
  • A key question was asked about all daughters under 14 in one country but all daughters under 19 in another?
  • The survey skip patterns differ significantly across surveys?

These are among the DHS equivalents of missing the nail and hammering your thumb. Ouch!

Fortunately, with IPUMS-DHS, you can put the metaphorical Band-Aids away. IPUMS-DHS, constructed at the Minnesota Population Center, is a web-based tool for accessing DHS data. It makes error-free comparative analysis (across time or countries) easy. IPUMS-DHS currently covers Africa and Asia and includes 23 countries, 101 samples, and 5000 variables. Why not give it a try?

1) See at a glance which surveys asked certain questions, how, and of whom.

Choose a topic from the drop-down list to see which samples include the groups of questions you want. Click on a variable name to see a comparison across countries. The tabs will guide you to codes and a description (which is especially great for constructed variables, like “Unmet Need”) and a discussion of comparability issues.

2) Compare the frequency of responses to questions and more without downloading a data file.

Clicking on the variable name will also bring up, for every sample, frequencies of responses, an explanation of who was asked the question (called the “Universe”) and an English-language version of the question text.

3) Trust that the same variable name and codes have same substantive content.

While the DHS standard variables simplify researchers’ work, even standard variables (such as V130, RELIGION) may have different responses or varying amounts of detail across samples. Non-standard variables’ names differ widely across DHS samples. IPUMS-DHS gives variables with the same substantive meaning consistent names and codes. This “integration” of the DHS data lets you analyze the data immediately, without investigating and resolving differences across samples.

 

4) Create a customized data file with multiple samples in minutes, and change it just as quickly.

With IPUMS-DHS, you can create a dataset tailored to your specific needs in a snap. Just log in using your existing DHS Program user ID and password, browse variables and samples, and add the ones you want to your “data cart.” (Despite the analogy, the data are completely free.) Indicate your preferred file format and, a minute or two later, your data will be ready to download, unzip, and analyze.

Did you forget a control variable? Want to add information from an additional sample? No problem. Just return to your data cart, click “Revise” and then “Change,” and you can instantly add or subtract variables and samples, and download the new, revised data file.

We encourage you to check out IPUMS-DHS. It could change your life (or at least your research).

Special thanks to our guest blog contributors, Elizabeth Boyle and Miriam King!

Elizabeth Heger Boyle, is Professor of Sociology & Law at the University of Minnesota. She studies the role of international laws and policies on women and children’s health around the world. She has written extensively on the impetus for and impact of laws related to female genital cutting, including the book Female Genital Cutting: Cultural Conflict in the Global Community. Her current research focuses on abortion policies globally and their effects; this includes a 2015 article in the American Journal of Sociology. Professor Boyle is currently co-Principal Investigator (with Dr. Miriam King) on IPUMS-DHS, a National Institute for Child Health and Development grant that integrates Demographic and Health Surveys over time and across countries to make them more user-friendly for researchers. Professor Boyle has a Ph.D. in Sociology from Stanford University and a J.D. from the University of Iowa.

Miriam L. King is a Senior Research Scientist at the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota.  She has managed data integration projects on the U.S. Current Population Survey, the U.S. National Health Interview Survey, and, most recently, the Demographic and Health Surveys.  Her research has focused on the history of the U.S. census, data integration methods, U.S. historical fertility differences, living arrangements, and disparities in access to insurance for same-sex couples.  Dr. King has a Ph.D. jointly in Demography and History from the University of Pennsylvania.

11 Jul

World Population Day 2017

How well do you know your population pyramids? Celebrate World Population Day with The DHS Program’s Guess the Population Pyramid Quiz!

See how you stack up against others and share your results below in the comment section, on Facebook, or Twitter! We are also having a live version of Guess the #PopPyramid on Twitter July 11 at 10AM EST.

Take the full-screen version of the quiz here.

Good luck!

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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