22 Nov 2017

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 2017

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 2017

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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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.