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.

Written by Erica Nybro

Erica NybroErica Nybro, Senior Advisor for Communication—Ms. Nybro is a health communication specialist with 15 years of professional experience in designing communication strategies and products for a diverse range of audiences. She is responsible for the overall management of global and country level dissemination of DHS data with the ultimate goal of increasing data use for decision making. Ms. Nybro has been with The DHS Program since 2004 and has led the DHS team in digital communication activities, including development of the new STATcompiler and mobile app, social media outreach, and online learning. Ms. Nybro has worked to strengthen capacity in communication and dissemination of DHS data in multiple countries, including Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and the Philippines. She has also trained international journalists to use DHS data accurately in reporting. She has a special interest in data visualization. Ms. Nybro has an M.P.H. in global maternal and child health from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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