Position title: Senior
Advisor for Capacity Strengthening
Languages spoken: French, English, Swahili, Lingala, and Haitian Creole
When did you start at The DHS Program? March
Favorite DHS survey cover: I prefer it when we have an image that represents the country. For example, the report for the 2007 Democratic Republic of the Congo DHS had an okapi on the cover, and you find okapis only in DRC.
What is your role at The DHS Program? As the Senior Advisor for Capacity Strengthening, I oversee the implementation of strategies to strengthen host country individual and institutional capacity, working with different technical teams.
My work involves assessing survey implementing agencies’ capacity at the beginning and at the end of a survey and working on capacity strengthening activities to improve and sustain institutional capacity. Capacity strengthening activities are either survey-related or competency-based trainings. Our training opportunities are offered both online, on The DHS Program Learning Hub, and in-person during national and regional workshops.
Another way of strengthening capacity at the country
level is by collaborating with consultants. The DHS Program has been using south-to-south
consultants for several years. Consultants help build and reinforce capacity in
host countries and across regions. Under DHS-8, we are designing a
certification program for these consultants, streamlining processes to equip
them with skills to better support survey implementation and dissemination.
What work are you most proud of? I have designed and facilitated several capacity strengthening activities in the past. In my work now at The DHS Program, I’m no longer in front of people facilitating trainings. I am mostly behind the scenes. I am very much involved in the design process, making sure that we have the right tools to facilitate engaging trainings. I am proud of the way I’ve been able to help technical teams design trainings, and I trust them to successfully run the show.
I am most proud of completely designing the DHS-8 Global Capacity Strengthening Strategy within my first six months at a program that has so many components as The DHS Program.
What’s your favorite trip to date? So far, my second trip is my favorite one. In December, I went to Madagascar to conduct a capacity assessment of the Institut National de la Statistique (INSTAT), the implementing agency for the forthcoming fifth Madagascar Demographic and Health Survey. While there I pilot-tested our updated Capacity Assessment Tools, which I used to assess INSTAT’s current capacity. Based on the results, I shared with INSTAT a list of capacity strengthening activities that I think would benefit them, like how they can restructure the way they work so that whatever capacity is built during the DHS survey process can be managed and shared throughout INSTAT to build long-term institutional capacity.
For more information about The DHS Program’s capacity strengthening approaches, visit our website.
The 2020 DHS Fellows Program is currently accepting applications from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Jordan, Maldives, Pakistan, Philippines, Tajikistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, and Zambia. Apply to join us for the DHS Fellows Program in 2020. The deadline to apply is November 24, 2019.
In this blog post, we interview two DHS Fellows who served as DHS Program workshop facilitators.
Dr. Kyaw Swa Mya is an Associate Professor and Head of Department of Biostatistics and Medical Demography at the University of Public Health, Yangon, Myanmar and Mr. Ehab Sakr is an assistant lecturer in the department of Demography and Bio-statistics at the Faculty of Graduate Studies for Statistical Research in Cairo University in Egypt. Both Fellows were both co-facilitators for the DHS Fellows Program (2019 and 2018, respectively) in addition to co-facilitating other DHS Program capacity strengthening workshops.
When was your first experience with the DHS Fellows Program?
ES: In January 2017, my colleagues and I were selected to be the first Egyptian team to participate in the 2017 DHS Fellows Program. I was eager for this opportunity because I used DHS data in my studies when I specialized in demography 17 years ago.
What was your experience as a DHS Fellows Program participant?
KSM: The Fellows Program provided many opportunities for the participants. First, we learned how DHS data was systematically collected and prepared for data users. Second, the Fellows Program improved our data management and analytical skills using STATA, as well as report writing skills. Third, as a requirement of the Fellows Program, we conducted capacity building activities at our University. These activities raised awareness among the Myanmar government and NGO public health professionals about using DHS data and DHS resources during planning, implementation, and evaluation of their health programs. We also disseminated the findings to stakeholders who impact policy implementation. Finally, we produced a DHS working paper that was published in the PLOS One journal.
ES: The Fellows Program was a great opportunity to enhance my knowledge about survey tools and improve my skills to use DHS data more efficiently and effectively. We were exposed to different cultures and academic trends from five other teams around the world. It’s also worth mentioning that implementing the capacity building project at our home university enriched my technical, teaching, and coaching skills. In two workshops facilitated by Dr. Wenjuan Wang and Dr. Shireen Assaf, we learned to use DHS data tools and techniques when analyzing DHS data. My teammates, Prof. Emeritus Mona Khalifa and Dr. Wafaa Hussein, and I wrote a DHS working paper titled “Changes in Contraceptive Use Dynamics in Egypt: Analysis of the 2008 and 2014 Demographic and Health Surveys.”
What was your experience as a facilitator?
KSM: The DHS Program gave me a second opportunity to participate in the DHS Fellows Program as a co-facilitator. I am thankful to The DHS Program for this opportunity. It was quite a challenging experience to be a co-facilitator. As a Fellow, I only needed to focus on my research topic, but as co-facilitator, I needed to learn all the research topics of participating countries. Moreover, I had to prepare lecture topics and this helped me become more familiar and confident with DHS methodology, analytical skills, and interpretation of the results.
ES: July 2019 was another great moment when I was asked to co-facilitate a workshop in Jordan on producing report tables using SPSS syntax at the Department of Statistics. It was a great experience communicating with lovely and skilled trainees, and we adapted to situations that forced us to customize the agenda of the workshop to suit the skills and knowledge of the trainees.
What impact has the DHS Fellows Program made on you?
KSM: The DHS Fellows Program changed my career, and DHS data has become a core part of my life. Since 2018, I published two journal articles and presented two oral presentations at the 10th and 11th International Conference on Public Health among Greater Mekong Sub-Regional Countries. One of my Masters in Public Health (MPH) students received a degree and I reviewed two master theses of two junior colleagues using DHS data and they achieved their master’s degree from foreign countries. I also received some emails from different countries asking for help with DHS coding and analysis challenges, and I helped them as far as I could. In addition, three of my MPH students prepared their proposals using DHS data this year. Myanmar is now realizing the data quality and accuracy of DHS indicators, so, not only academicians and students but also program managers and policymakers are using DHS indicators in relevant situations.
The DHS Fellow Program is one of the best and most effective programs that I have ever attended. I am grateful to USAID for providing financial and technical support to collect and disseminate quality data to monitor and evaluate population, health, and nutrition programs for developing countries.
ES: The DHS Fellows Program was life-changing and it gave me the opportunity to deepen my scientific and practical knowledge in an international, inspiring, creative, and diversified environment. Special thanks to USAID, The DHS Program team, and all the people I mentioned above. I learned a lot from them and hope to continue collaborating with them in the future.
Dr. Kyaw Swa Mya is a Biostatistician. He is an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Biostatistics and Medical Demography, University of Public Health, Yangon, Myanmar. He holds a master’s degree in Public Health in Biostatistics. He is a member of the Institutional Review Board of the University of Public Health, Yangon. He currently works as a module supervisor of Diploma in Research Methodology and Research Ethics program conducted in the University of Medicine (I). His research interests are maternal and child health, nutrition, and non-communicable diseases.
Mr. Ehab Sakr is an assistant lecturer in the department of Demography and Bio-statistics, Faculty of Graduate Studies for Statistical Research, Cairo University in Egypt. He holds a master’s degree in Statistics from the Faculty of Economics and Political Science. His thesis theme was related to the levels and trends of age at first marriage for women in Egypt. He taught and consulted on various topics related to population dynamics and development and is currently a Ph.D. student.
The 2020 DHS Fellows Program is currently accepting applications from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Jordan, Maldives, Pakistan, Philippines, Tajikistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, and Zambia. The deadline to apply is November 24th.
The DHS Fellows Program was an opportunity for us to analyze DHS data, and we are particularly fortunate to live in Senegal, which released the Senegal Continuous Survey, providing nationally representative data annually between 2012 and 2018.
Prior to the Fellows Program we used DHS reports and results without knowing the methodology, data collection, analysis, and reporting work that was behind it. The possibility of using the data for secondary analysis was also unknown to us. The DHS Fellows Program allowed us to master the DHS survey structure, sampling design, and understand how to analyze population-based survey data using Stata software. The Fellows Program was a learning process, but it was also an opportunity for culture-sharing with other participants from diverse backgrounds such as Ghana, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Afghanistan. Each group has advised the others in their work so everyone can present the best possible results. The co-facilitators of the Fellows program were former DHS Fellows and this gave us an opportunity to see Fellows alumni presenting their experiences with the program.
Thanks to the Fellows Program, we are better equipped to use this data again in other future work and have shared it with our colleagues during our capacity building activities. Some colleagues are already hoping to participate in future Fellows Program or other DHS workshops. This program not only allowed us to better understand the DHS surveys, but also make in-depth statistical analyses and to use DHS data to write analysis reports.
Download the DHS Working Paper authored by the Senegalese DHS Fellows participants, Coverage and Associated Factors for HIV Screening in Senegal: Further Analysis of the 2017 Demographic and Health Survey.
We were one of the first Francophone teams to participate in the Fellows Program, which initially caused us some apprehension. The call for applications required a skilled level of English as the course is taught in English, but thanks to the availability of our facilitators, Shireen, Wenjuan, and co-facilitators, Kyaw and Gedefaw, we did very well!
We could never thank ICF and The DHS Program enough for this amazing experience. In addition, we formed a real family with teams from other countries. We strongly recommend that researchers from French-speaking countries submit their applications for the 2020 DHS Fellows Program.
Written by: Ndeye Aïssatou Lakhe, Prof. Cheikh Tidiane Ndour, and Dr. Khardiata Diallo Mbaye
Dr. Ndeye Aïssatou Lakhe is a medical doctor specializing in infectious and tropical diseases. She currently works as a lecturer in infectious diseases at the Faculty of Medicine of Dakar. She is also a practicing MD at the Clinic of Infectious Diseases at Fann Teaching Hospital, the third largest hospital in Dakar. She is the head of the Infection and Prevention Control (IPC) committee of the hospital. Her interests are in policy making, particularly in IPC and health program evaluation.
Prof. Cheikh Tidiane Ndour is a Professor of infectious and tropical diseases, working in the Department of Diseases at the Fann University Hospital and the Faculty of Medicine at the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar. He has been the head of the AIDS and STI Control Division of the Ministry of Health for the last three years. His current focus is the implementation of innovative strategies to achieve the 90-90-90 strategy: identify 90% of people infected by HIV, put 90% of identified HIV-positive individuals on antiretroviral treatment, and ensure that 90% of those on ART have undetectable viral loads, in accordance with commitments to the international community.
Dr . Khardiata Diallo Mbaye specializes in Infectious and tropical diseases. She works as a teacher/researcher at the University Cheikh Anta DIOP at the Faculty of Medicine of Dakar, and as a physician at the Clinic of Infectious Diseases at Fann Teaching Hospital. She also specializes in public health.
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that, globally, 289,000 women of reproductive age die of maternal causes each year. Over 80% of these deaths are due to complications during childbirth and the postpartum period. Skilled birth attendance at health facilities equipped to handle complications is crucial for ensuring maternal survival. While Kenya has made progress in improving maternal health services in the last decade, data from the 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey show that less than two-thirds of births are delivered in a health facility.
The DHS Program recently published a study on place of delivery and shared the results with county stakeholders and USAID project implementers at dissemination events in Kisumu, Turkana, Nakuru, and Nairobi counties. One aim of the study was to explore the “why” questions that sometimes are left unanswered with indicator estimates and other quantitative analysis; specifically: Why do women in Kenya deliver at home, even in instances when health facilities appear to be available?
Click photos to enlarge.
Exploring this research question included the use of journey mapping methods. In particular, the data collection tools were designed with the aim of mapping the journey for Kenyan women from the time when they learn they are pregnant to when and where they give birth.
A journey mapping approach recognizes that often a journey does not follow a straight line; instead, a journey—from pregnancy to delivery in this case—includes many economic, familial, and sociocultural factors that must be navigated along the way. In addition, the focus on mapping journeys works to uncover the story related to a woman’s delivery experience.
Data from the study suggest that place of delivery is not as simple as grouping women into the dichotomy of those who choose to deliver in a health facility and those who choose to deliver outside a health facility. Numerous factors influence place of delivery, and women do not necessarily always choose the place of delivery. The study’s conclusions recognize that contextual factors and decision making pertaining to place of delivery are complex. The pregnancy-to-delivery continuum follows an ever-shifting terrain influenced by myriad individual and collective beliefs, perceptions, tensions, and experiences.
Key Conclusions: Understanding the Nuances of a Women’s Journey along the Pregnancy-to-Delivery Continuum
Decision making occurs over time
Limited options for services to address fears and insecurities
Gendered views regarding male partner involvement in health care
Geographic and transportation challenges
Free maternity care is not always free
Expectation of support and respectful maternal care not always met
Prominence of and preferences for traditional birth attendant (TBA)
Challenges negotiating decisions and power dynamics in a marriage or partnership
Hesitancy of health facilities to accommodate for traditional practice
Potential reliance on financial support from male partners
The conclusions from this study represent a platform to galvanize momentum and facilitate a commitment to take positive steps forward. Past and present strategies and programs put into operation by USAID/Kenya, the Government of Kenya, and their partners have made substantial progress in improving the uptake of optimal maternal and child health practices. Research studies such as this one—and the use of journey mapping methods—can make a valuable contribution to knowledge about both the context in which women experience pregnancy and delivery and the specific challenges they face along the pregnancy-to-delivery continuum.
Download the full study, “Place of Delivery: Perceptions, Tensions, and Experiences. Results from a Study in Baringo, Kisumu, Migori, Samburu, and Turkana Counties, Kenya” on The DHS Program website.
I then transitioned from being a workshop participant to a workshop co-facilitator, facilitating the 2017 Regional Malaria Indicator Trends Workshop in Uganda. This workshop brought together NMCP monitoring and evaluation (M&E) program managers from Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Uganda to examine trends in malaria indicators.
More recently, I co-facilitated the 2018 Ghana Malaria Trends Workshop. This workshop brought together district malaria health officers to analyze trends in household survey indicators in Ghana. This was a great workshop because I was able to work with the data I am most familiar with! The output from this workshop is published on The DHS Program website.
How has NMCP
used DHS data for programmatic decision making?
After the release of the 2016 GMIS, NMCP noticed a low uptake of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACTs) in the Northern region, but the use of SP/Fansidar was high, which is not a recommended treatment for malaria in children. This triggered us to do additional research to figure out what was going on in this region and investigate which outlets were distributing SP. We realized that people were not receiving SP from public health facilities but from private clinical shops and other drug peddlers. The 2016 GMIS results provided a snapshot of the malaria case management situation in the Northern region and provided us justification to explore further. To solve this problem, NMCP implemented a sensitization activity to ensure people in the region know the recommended treatment and sources to get the correct treatment.
Another example of evidence-based decision making was the implementation of a malaria sensitization campaign using data the 2016 GMIS. Malaria prevalence by microscopy in the Eastern region increased between the 2014 GDHS and 2016 GMIS. This was a worrying trend because in Ghana we normally only see high malaria prevalence in the Northern and Upper West regions. NMCP looked more critically at the 2016 GMIS results and saw that while insecticide-treated net (ITN) ownership was high, the proportion of people who recognized the cause and symptoms of malaria was very low. As a result, NMCP implemented a community level sensitization activity in four districts of the Eastern region.
How do you use MIS
survey data during your daily job?
I recently collaborated on a research paper using DHS data. The paper, published in The Malaria Journal, used survey data from the 2014 GDHS and the 2016 GMIS to examine ITN use behavior by exploring how several household and environmental variables related to use among Ghanaians with access to an ITN. This further analysis paper has been extremely helpful for programmatic decision making here at NMCP.
What data are
you looking forward to in the upcoming 2019 GMIS?
I am interested in further examining the information about the type of nets in households. NMCP finished a mass long-lasting insecticidal net (LLIN) distribution campaign in 2018 and implemented a school-based piperonyl butoxide (PBO) net distribution campaign in 2019. The 2019 GMIS results will provide information on the reach and use of these nets across Ghana as well as where people obtained their nets.
Written by: Samuel Oppong
Samuel Oppong is a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist with the Ghana National Malaria Control Programme. He coordinators M&E activities in vector control interventions, routine data quality audits, and SMC. He is involved in capacity building of national, regional, district and health facility staff on capturing, reporting, and analyzing malaria-related data from routine health information systems as well as other malaria data sources. He also leads capacity building programs of national, regional, and district staff on conducting data quality audits as well as onsite training, supportive supervision (OTSS) on malaria data management.
The National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) recently reoriented their communication strategy around insecticide-treated nets or ITNs, moving from a focus on behavior change around ITN use to a focus on net care and repair to extend the life of existing ITNs. Why the change?
The 2013-14 DRC Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) showed that only 50% of the household population had slept under an ITN the night before the survey, an indicator they wanted to improve. But when they dove deeper into ITN use, interpreting it in the context of ITN access, a different picture emerged. The survey also found that 47% of the population had access to an ITN. Interpreting these two indicators together, the NMCP redefined their strategy with the understanding that people were using the ITNs they had, and since use was higher than access, more than two people were using each net. In this context, the behavior change messages needed to be targeted toward helping people extend the life of their ITNs.
This kind of data use is only successful when decision makers understand the indicators that are informing their policies and programs. Our new course on K4Health’s Global Health eLearning (GHeL) Center, Measuring Malaria through Household Surveys, dives into the major malaria indicators, guiding learners through the process of collecting and calculating these indicators and through considerations for their interpretation.
The DHS Program has continuously sought to develop tools and curricula to strengthen the capacity of stakeholders to use survey data. From the survey report and dataset to STATcompiler and the mobile app, from tutorial videos to the user forum, and from one-day Data to Action workshops to advanced data analysis workshops, we are always innovating to meet users’ needs.
Last year, The DHS Program developed a Malaria Indicator Trends workshop curriculum to increase the capacity of data users from National Malaria Control Programs to utilize DHS/MIS data to answer key programmatic questions and to accurately interpret trends in malaria indicators. The workshop targets users who needed more information than could be provided in a one-day dissemination workshop but who do not have (or need) the skills to analyze with STATA. It was immediately clear that this workshop, which dives into each of the recommended indicators, their calculation, their limitations, and considerations for their interpretation, was meeting a need for data users. The next step to increase the well-informed use of these important indicators was to expand the reach of this curriculum through an online course on the Global Health eLearning Center platform.
This free course targets professionals (both generalist staff working on malaria as well as those with programmatic expertise in malaria) from donor agencies, ministries of health, and implementing and collaborating agencies. It takes 2-3 hours to complete and can be taken as a part of the Monitoring & Evaluation or Infectious Diseases certificates offered through the GHeL center.
When the indicators from household surveys are better understood, better programmatic decisions will be made.
Many projects provide statistical training, but what makes The DHS Program’s capacity strengthening program unique is its ability to use state-of-the-art training approaches. Building on past workshops, eLearning tools, and well-received feedback, we are pleased to announce the release of a new DHS Survey Sampling eLearning course designed for broader public consumption.
In order to meet the overwhelming demand for sampling trainings, the first DHS Survey Sampling eLearning course was designed and conducted from June 19 to September 30, 2017, with a total of 32 participants from 16 countries completing the course. Participants were affiliated with various institutions such as National Statistics Offices, National Malaria Control Programs, National Center for HIV/AIDS Programs, universities, and non-governmental organizations.
Registration for the 2018 DHS Survey Sampling eLearning course is now open and applications will be accepted through April 20, 2018. This 8-week course begins May 1 and ends June 29, 2018. Prior knowledge of DHS surveys is beneficial, but not essential. However, all participants should have demonstrable basic statistical knowledge and computer skills in Excel prior to the training. Participants must be able to understand and communicate in English.
The eLearning course equips participants with the knowledge, tools, and abilities to design samples for population surveys, such as DHS surveys. While DHS surveys are the focus of the course, the acquired skills can also be used for other types of surveys. Participants can virtually participate in the course at their own pace within the 8-week timeframe from anywhere in the world.
The eLearning course also includes a discussion forum to promote participant interaction and peer-to-peer learning. Participants will share reflections on the learned course content and get feedback from facilitators. At the completion of the course, participants will still be able to access the course and resources at any time.
Let us know if you have any questions about the eLearning course in the comments section below. Don’t forget to subscribe to The DHS Program newsletter for updates on our digital tools, surveys, and more!
Photo captions: Screenshots of the eLearning course
Ms. Handley has more than 17 years of experience in designing and implementing training and capacity-building activities to support programs providing assistance in less developed settings. She has extensive knowledge of adult learning theories, including participatory methods, and has planned and/or conducted training activities using eLearning and online tools. As the Capacity Building and Trainer Advisor at Management Sciences for Health (MSH), Ms. Handley was responsible for supporting the development and implementation of a comprehensive capacity-strengthening program for the USAID-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Health Services (SIAPS) program. Ms. Handley has experience in working on capacity strengthening and training programs in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. Ms. Handley has an M.A. in International Development and Intercultural Training.
Dr. Elkasabi is a Sampling Statistician at The DHS Program. He joined The DHS Program in 2013 after earning his Ph.D. in Survey Methodology from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, with a specialty in Survey Statistics and Sampling. Dr. Elkasabi is responsible for the sampling design for the DHS surveys as well as building sampling capacity in many countries, such as Ghana, Egypt, Nigeria, India, Malawi, Zambia, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Dr. Elkasabi likes to work closely with the sampling statisticians in different countries. In these win-win relationships, he shares his knowledge in sampling and gains new knowledge & experiences.
In some developing countries, the knowledge and methods for complex survey sampling can be capacity gaps in national statistical offices. In many cases, survey samples are prepared by statisticians who have limited academic and field experience in sampling. For this reason, The DHS Program has developed a Regional Sampling Workshop to provide a two-week face-to-face training on survey sampling. The target audience includes statisticians from African and Asian national statistical offices or implementing agencies who have been or will be involved in designing the sample for their country’s DHS survey. The DHS Program has facilitated two such workshops in Tanzania in 2016 and Indonesia in 2017.
In July 2017, my colleague Dr. Ruilin Ren and I facilitated the Regional Sampling Workshop in Bali, Indonesia. Fifteen participants from nine countries first completed pre-work online in preparation for attending the 12-day face-to-face workshop. The workshop focused on each step involved in survey sampling including sampling frame preparation, sample selection procedure, sample size determination, sample allocation, household listing, and weight calculation. Each day, participants were exposed to innovative blended learning methods, such as videos, demonstrations, exercises, and lectures.
In addition to the sampling topics, participants were introduced to the adult learning principles training package designed by DHS Senior Advisor for Capacity Strengthening, Abibata Handley. Through participatory sessions, participants learned how to apply effective training methods and techniques to teach complex sampling concepts. Participants worked together in groups to develop and facilitate a 60-minute “teachback” for one of the sampling topics and received feedback from the instructors. I was impressed by how creative all the groups were in facilitating their assigned sessions. Upon completion of the workshop, participants were ready to go back to their home institutions and teach sampling topics in an interesting way.
Many programs provide sampling training, but what makes The DHS Program’s capacity strengthening and training workshop unique is its combined use of traditional training approaches along with cutting-edge eLearning tools. This combination provides participants with practical skills that can be applied right away to support their country’s ongoing surveys. Participants receive the entire training package so they can, in turn, replicate the sampling training in their own country. The training package includes a Facilitator’s Guide and Participant’s Guide, presentations, and tools with detailed instructions on how to facilitate the activities, class exercises, and group projects.
In May 2017, I traveled to Yaoundé, Cameroon to provide technical assistance in the sample design for the 2017-18 Cameroon Demographic and Health Survey. During the trip, I worked with Romain Wounang, a Survey Statistician at the National Institute of Statistics (INS) of Cameroon, who attended the first Regional Sampling Workshop in Tanzania in 2016. In addition to his background and experience in survey statistics, the new skills that Romain acquired from the workshop allowed for a smooth collaboration in designing the sample for the Cameroon DHS. This experience was a success, as I witnessed a participant perform and apply the sampling techniques covered in the workshop to the sample design of the Cameroon DHS.
Another workshop participant, John Bore from Kenya, excelled and was approached to be a co-facilitator for a Tanzania-specific sampling workshop. When asked to help with the training, without hesitation John accepted and lead several sessions. As he kicked off the workshop, John introduced himself:
“Good morning everyone. My name is John Bore. I am a Senior Statistician from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. Eight months ago, I myself was sitting in your seats. I was a participant at the first-ever DHS Program Regional Workshop on Sampling and Listing that was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in July 2016. Today, I am here as a co-facilitator. It’s an honor to be co-facilitating this workshop along with our DHS sampling expert, Dr. Ruilin Ren.”
To date, The DHS Program has trained 31 samplers and consultants in regional workshops. Although the sampling workshop is just one activity in a long process to prepare professional sampling statisticians, I believe conducting such trainings is a win-win strategy for the participants, implementing agencies, and for The DHS 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.
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.
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!