23 Feb 2016

High Demand for New India NFHS-4 Data


Fact sheets with survey results for the first 15 of the States and Union Territories from the 2015-16 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) were recently released to much fanfare and a veritable feeding frenzy among the media. The keen interest in the survey results materialized even without a formal dissemination event. The thirst for the results may have been stimulated by how:

  • it has been 10 years since the previous NFHS survey,
  • the results were made available even before the second-phase fieldwork started,
  • the NFHS surveys are considered to be highly reliable, and
  • the fact sheets contain a wide variety of key population, health, and nutrition indicators (114 in all), broken down by urban and rural areas and shown in comparison with the 2005-06 NFHS-3 results when possible.
© Fred Arnold/ICF International

© Fred Arnold/ICF International

The excitement accompanying the release of the NFHS-4 results was a far cry from what I remember happened at the time of the release of the 1992-93 NFHS-1 survey national report. Of course, the key stakeholders who were knowledgeable about NFHS-1 showed up at the dissemination event in large numbers, but it was difficult to generate a great deal of interest among the media, since they were less familiar with the survey or the importance of its results.

The proliferation of news articles and conversations on social media surrounding the results of the NFHS-4 fact sheets are examples of the interest in getting survey results out quickly.  Tweets from a variety of users, tagged with #NFHS4, shared links to the fact sheets, complete tables from each fact sheet, and trends in the data.

The first fact sheets for NFHS-4 are now available from the NFHS-4 coordinating agency, the International Institute for Population Sciences and from The DHS Program, and there is a link to the fact sheets from the website of the Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Overall, 250 district-level fact sheets have also been released for the same states, each containing 93 indicators.

Working on a survey with a sample size of more than 572,000 households, with more than 6,000 field staff, 16 survey field agencies, millions of biomarkers tests, and questionnaires in 18 languages is certainly challenging, but finally being able to see the survey results in the hands of key stakeholders who are in a position to help improve the lives of India’s population makes it all worthwhile. Stay tuned for more results as the second phase of fieldwork has just begun.

For more information, read the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s press release.

04 Feb 2016

Celebrating 12 Years of Service with The DHS Program

Laurie Liskin with the 2014 Kenya DHS team.
From left to right: M.G. Obudho, Michael Musyoka, Sara Head, Laurie Liskin, John K. Bore, Andrew Imbwaga, A.A. Awes (back), Christine Mbuli, Rebecca Kiptui, James Munguti (back)

After 12 years with The DHS Program, 58 trips to 17 countries, and almost 40 years in international development, I’ve decided to slow down.  As of January 2016, I will retire from full time work and explore the pleasures of retirement.

What to make of the past 12 years?  First, I marvel at how the field of dissemination has changed since I joined DHS in 2003.  So much of what is standard now—eLearning, tweets, infographics, data apps, and desktop video production, either did not exist a decade ago or was just beginning.  The field of dissemination and personal communication has exploded.  We can see the growth everywhere.  In Kenya, for example, only 13% of households had any kind of telephone in 2003.  Just 11 years later, in 2014, 86% of households have a mobile phone, many of them smart phones. Facebook is ubiquitous.   Access to information has never been easier.

Second, I am profoundly grateful for the chance to work with the dedicated team here at The DHS Program.  All of our staff—the diligent data processors, the incredibly creative dissemination team, talented researchers, capacity strengthening experts, the overworked survey managers, and of course, our stalwart program managers—are committed to ensuring that DHS, SPA, and MIS surveys are the highest quality possible.

Third, I cherish the opportunities I have had to collaborate with our country partners. After multiple trips to Tanzania, Bangladesh, and Kenya, in particular, I am lucky to have worked with survey specialists, communication experts, staff from USAID cooperating agencies, and our partners at USAID missions.  The work has been challenging, exciting, occasionally very frustrating, but most of all, lots of fun.

Best of all, the program welcomes a terrific new Senior Advisor for Communication. Erica Nybro has worked with The DHS Program since 2004 and has pioneered new products and activities including the DHS User Forum, the Mobile App, and training in data visualization.  I look forward to seeing her lead dissemination at The DHS Program in exciting new directions.

So, I bid farewell to my colleagues and friends in Rockville and around the world.  Thanks to all for a wonderful 12 years with The DHS Program.

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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.