24 Apr 2014

World Malaria Day: What’s the Buzz?


It’s a health risk for more than half the world’s population. A child dies every minute because of it. There are 207 million annual cases worldwide. And 90% of the deaths from this disease (which kills 627,000 globally) occur in Sub-Saharan Africa (source: World Health Organization).

We’re buzzing about malaria. This preventable and curable mosquito-borne illness results from a multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells which then burst, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache. It’s especially dangerous to women and children in Sub-Saharan Africa, where biological, environmental, and socio-economic factors mean a greatly increased risk of malaria transmission. Those at highest risk include children age 6 months to 5 years, who haven’t yet developed partial immunity to the disease, and pregnant women, whose immunity to malaria is compromised.

Invest in the future: defeat malaria. That’s the theme for this year’s World Malaria Day (April 25th). Organizations, governments, communities, and donors have all worked hard to increase access to malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment…But there’s still a long way to go. At The DHS Program, we’ve made great strides in collecting and analyzing malaria data for current and future  malaria control policy and programming efforts.

Here are 5 ways The DHS Program contributes to the effort to Roll Back Malaria:

1. Implementing malaria modules in the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), Service Provision Assessments (SPA), and Malaria Indicator Surveys (MIS).

2012 Malawi MIS

2012 Malawi MIS

The DHS Program collects data in many DHS, SPA, and MIS surveys on a number of malaria indicators, including ownership and use of insecticide-treat nets (ITNs) by children and pregnant women, prevalence and prompt treatment of fever in children, and intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women (IPTp). In recent years, biomarker testing for anemia and parasitemia has been added, as well as other relevant questions.

DHS surveys with malaria modules have been conducted in more than 30 countries. Ten of these countries have also conducted MIS surveys since 2005: Angola, Burundi, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda. Find out more on our Malaria Corner.

2. Developing workshops on using population-based survey data for M&E malaria control.

DHS workshop in TanzaniaPopulation-based malaria survey data are widely used for monitoring and evaluation of programs by international donor organizations, but they remain underutilized by national malaria control programs. In order to strengthen professionals’ capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa, The DHS Program will host workshops later this year in Ghana and Burkina Faso along with partners MEASURE Evaluation, the University of Ghana School of Public Health, and the Research Center in Sante de Nouna (CRSN). These one-week workshops will provide training in effective use of population-based survey data (check back with us in a few months to hear more about the workshops).

3. Analyzing malaria data for research studies.

Members of The DHS Program Analysis team dress up as Indoor Residual Spray (IRS) Sprayers for Halloween. IRS sprayers are integral to malaria prevention and control.

Members of The DHS Program Analysis team dress up as Indoor Residual Spray (IRS) Sprayers.

The Analysis team at The DHS Program uses the data mentioned in #1 to undertake analytical studies and comparative reports. One such publication is this quantitative, multinational report which discusses preventing malaria during pregnancy in sub-Saharan Africa. This report discusses the determinants of effective IPTp delivery. Though many people tend to think about children and bednets when they hear about malaria, IPTp can be effective in preventing malaria among another high-risk group, pregnant women, but only when administered correctly.

4. Maintaining malariasurveys.org.

MalariaSurveysMalariasurveys.org serves as a home to a comprehensive list of malaria indicator surveys, reports, and datasets. It also contains a list of resources on malaria and toolkits for survey implementation and use. This is one of the ways in which The DHS Program partners with Roll Back Malaria (RBM), the global framework designed to implement coordinated action against malaria.

5. Working with the Roll Back Malaria Consortium to help assess the impact of malaria control on child mortality in 15 countries.

RBM Progress & Impact Series

The DHS Program also partners with Roll Back Malaria to carry out follow-up nationwide evaluations of the impact of malaria control on all-cause childhood mortality (ACCM)  in focus countries over the past decade. These surveys provide updated information on household coverage of ITNs, appropriate diagnosis and treatment of malaria, and prevention of malaria in pregnant women and assess evidence of plausible associations between scale-up of these interventions and reductions in ACCM. The assessments are part of the larger RBM partnership’s evaluation of progress towards the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Learn more about the impact evaluations on the PMI website.

Do you use DHS data to learn about malaria? What’s your favorite malaria-related indicator?

15 Apr 2014

Spotlight on New Staff: Mahmoud Elkasabi

This is the first in a series of posts introducing readers to new staff at The DHS Program. Welcome,Mahmoud!

Mahmoud Elkasabi

Mahmoud Elkasabi

Name: Mahmoud Elkasabi

Position title:  International Survey Sampling Statistician

Languages spoken: English and Arabic

When not working, favorite place to visit:  Chicago

Favorite type of cuisine: Mediterranean or Indian

Last good book you read: Azazeel, by Youssef Ziedan

Where would we find you on a Saturday?  With my daughter and wife, watching TV and going out together.

First time you worked with DHS survey data: In my thesis for my master’s degree. I used the 2005 Egypt DHS to explore landline telephone ownership, and to examine the differences between the landline-households and the non-landline-households.

What is on your desk (or bulletin board/wall) right now?  A lot of sampling textbooks.

What is your favorite survey final report cover?  The Peru 2012 Continuous DHS . The art work is very innovative and different.

Favorite chapter or indicator, and why?  Characteristics of Survey Respondents. This section gives me a quick idea about what a country looks like.

What’s your favorite way to access The DHS Program’s data?  I usually use http://www.dhsprogram.com.

What population or health issue are you most passionate about?  Why?  I’m always passionate about the HIV testing results. HIV indicators provide you with a tool to track the change in the HIV knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.

What are you most looking forward to about your new position?  To work closely with statisticians in different countries to develop the survey sampling design. Also, I’m looking forward to contributing to the capacity building of those statisticians, especially regarding the survey sampling designs and survey estimation. In addition, I also look forward to visiting different countries, seeing different cultures, and trying new food.

What has been your biggest surprise so far?  It is not always boring to work with one survey. With The DHS Program, each country has a different flavor and challenges.

What do you look forward to bringing to The DHS Program (job-related or not!)? I’m excited to be a part of The DHS Program team and I’m looking forward to applying what I have learned, and to gain more experience from all of the staff.

01 Apr 2014

Spotlight on Implementing Agencies: Indonesia

Atmarita, Krismawati, and Rina Herartri (Pictured, L to R) visited DHS Headquarters from Indonesia.

Atmarita, Krismawati, and Rina Herartri (L to R)

In June 2013, The DHS Program welcomed visitors from Indonesia’s Ministry of Health, Population and Family Planning Board and Bureau of Population Statistics. This is the first in a series of interviews with visitors toDHS headquarters.


Atmarita(Head of Division for Public Health Services, Center for Public Health Intervention Technology, National Institute of Health Research and Development, Ministry of Health), Rina Herartri (Researcher, National Population and Family Planning Board), andKrismawati (Head of Subdirectorate of Wage and Income, BPS-Statistics, Indonesia)

When not working, favorite place to visit:

Atmarita: Papua, Indonesia and Annapolis, Maryland

First time you worked withDHS data:

Atmarita: I used the 1991IDHS data for my dissertation.

Rina: 1997.

Krismawati: 2002. 

What has been the nicest surprise visitingDHS headquarters?

Rina: It’s like a little UN and very nice people.

IDHS Cover 2012

IDHS 2012

What do you miss most about home when you are here?

Atmarita: Mickey, my dog.

Rina: nasi goreng (fried rice) for breakfast.

Krismawati: my children.

What is the biggest difference between theDHS headquarters office and your office at home?

Rina: Tight security and an endless supply of coffee.

IDHS 2012 Adolescent Reproductive Health Final Report

IDHS 2012 Adolescent Reproductive Health Final Report

What is your favoriteDHS final report cover?

The 2007 IDHS (unanimous!)

FavoriteDHS chapter or indicator, and why?

Atmarita: The most important indicators are TFR [Total Fertility Rate], MMR [Maternal Mortality Ratio] and CPR [Contraceptive Prevalence Rate], because they are important in developing future strategy.

Rina: Fertility and family planning, the most important indicators of the achievements of my organization.

Krismawati: Fertility, as one of the inputs for the policy makers.

What population or health issue are you most passionate about? Why?

Atmarita: Use of contraception, especially among adolescents (age 15-24), because they are the high-risk group for future fertility and maternal health.

Rina: Fertility decision making, how it is affected by so many factors.

Krismawati: Adolescent Reproductive Health.

How do you hope theDHS data from your country will be used?

Atmarita: For evaluating the implementation of current programs and developing new strategy.

Rina and Krismawati: I hope it will be widely used by policy makers and academics as well.

What have you learned from theDHS experience?

Rina: Everything, from designing the survey, writing the reports, and disseminating the results.

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Anthropometry measurement (height and weight) is a core component of DHS surveys that is used to generate indicators on nutritional status. The Biomarker Questionnaire now includes questions on clothing and hairstyle interference on measurements for both women and children for improved interpretation.