Category Archives: Workshops

20 Nov 2019

From Participant to Facilitator: DHS Fellows from Myanmar and Egypt

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?

KSM: In 2018, I was selected as part of a three-member team for the 2018 DHS Fellows Program from the University of Public Health, Yangon. We were the first Fellows from Myanmar where only one DHS survey has been conducted in 2015-2016. In Myanmar, most public health professionals, including myself, were not aware of DHS surveys.

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.


Photo caption: Facilitators and participants from the 2018 DHS Fellows Data Analysis Workshop. ©ICF


Written by: Kyaw Swa Mya and Ehab Sakr

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.

06 Nov 2019

Reflections from the 2019 DHS Fellows Program: Senegal

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.

Click to view the 2019 DHS Fellows Facebook photo album

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.

 

Featured photo caption: Dr. Khardiata Diallo Mbaye, Prof. Cheikh Tidiane Ndour, and Dr. Ndeye Aïssatou Lakhe at the 2019 DHS Fellows Report Writing Workshop. ©ICF


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.

22 Oct 2019

Journey Mapping Methods: Results from a Study on Place of Delivery

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.


Photo gallery captions (left to right):

  1. Participants at the Kisumu County dissemination and data use workshop, August 1, 2019. © ICF
  2. Participants at the Turkana County dissemination and data use workshop, August 5, 2019. © ICF
  3. Participants at the Nakuru County dissemination and data use workshop, July 29, 2019. © ICF
  4. Participants at the Nairobi dissemination and data use workshop, July 17, 2019. The group included Nairobi-based stakeholders as well as key stakeholders who traveled to Nairobi from Baringo, Kisumu, Migori, Nakuru, Samburu, and Turkana counties. © ICF
19 Aug 2019

DHS Data Users: Samuel Oppong, Ghana National Malaria Control Programme M&E Specialist

If you are interested in being featured in the ‘DHS Data Users’ blog series, let us know here by submitting your example of DHS Program data use. 


How are you involved in DHS Program surveys and analysis workshops?

My first time working on a DHS Program survey was for the 2016 Ghana Malaria Indicator Survey (GMIS). I helped with fieldwork monitoring and report writing. After the 2016 GMIS, I participated in the 2017 Regional DHS/MIS Malaria Analysis Workshop. At this workshop, I worked with my team members from the Ghana National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) to write an abstract, “Factors Influencing Malaria Prevalence in Children Under 5,” using the 2016 GMIS data.

Samuel Oppong (left) with participants from Ghana at
the 2017 DHS/MIS Malaria Analysis Workshop. © ICF

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.

Samuel Oppong (left) and Annē Linn co-facilitated the 2018
Ghana Malaria Indicator Trends Workshop. © ICF

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.


Featured photo: © 2017 Magali Rochat/VectorWorks, Courtesy of Photoshare


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.

11 Jun 2018

New e-Learning Course: Measuring Malaria through Household Surveys

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.

Click here to take the course

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 that could be provided in a one-day dissemination workshop but does not have the skills (or need) 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.

Click here to take the course

Photo Credit: © 2016 Sarah Hoibak/VectorWorks, Courtesy of Photoshare

18 Oct 2016

Reflections from Elizabeth Nansubuga, a 2013 DHS Fellow

I was a DHS Fellow in 2013, part of a three-person team from the “Harvard of Africa,” Makerere University. The DHS Fellows Program came at a time when I had just enrolled for my doctoral studies in South Africa. As part of my doctoral studies, I had to apply advanced statistical techniques in analyzing maternal health-seeking behavior in Uganda using DHS data. Hence, the fellowship could not have come at a better time! It remains a remarkable experience to date, one that continues to impact my professional career.

Elizabeth Nansubuga co-facilitating the 2016 DHS Fellows workshop

Throughout The DHS Fellows Program, we were introduced to how to appropriately use DHS data and several analytical techniques using STATA software. These techniques were very useful in my doctoral studies. With the knowledge I acquired during the fellowship, I became known as a DHS data ‘expert’ among my peers and faculty colleagues and was able to share with them correct methods to analyze DHS data. It should come as no surprise that my Fellows teammate, Simon Kibira, acquired a further interest in the topic we worked on – male circumcision and HIV. He went on to pursue doctoral studies on the same topic.

After completing my doctoral studies at North West University, I returned to Makerere University and became a lecturer, which meant I would be teaching additional postgraduate courses. I have since been able to incorporate DHS data into my teaching materials. This was made easier with resources such as STATcompiler, DHS model datasets, and the mobile app – just a few of the numerous resources that Fellows are introduced to. And notably, since the fellowship, I had more confidence in supervising projects which used DHS data.

Sarah Staveteig, Patricia Ndugga, Elizabeth Nansubuga, and Wenjuan Wang after a presentation at The DHS Program headquarters

Later I had an opportunity with Ms. Patricia Ndugga, another former DHS Fellow and a colleague at Makerere University, to present our research based on DHS data to DHS staff at their Rockville, Maryland headquarters. Patricia presented an excerpt of her doctoral work, “Fertility preferences among postpartum women in Uganda.” Using the 2014-15 Uganda Malaria Indicator Survey, I presented my analysis “Determinants of three-dosage malaria intermittent preventive treatment among pregnant women in Uganda.” Here, we also received good feedback that greatly improved our work!

Afterward, I was invited to co-facilitate workshops during the 2016 Fellows Program. While I was happy to assist and share my knowledge and experiences, it was also an opportunity for me to continue enhancing my knowledge on DHS data and analytical skills, as well as to network with colleagues from other African countries.

Truly, there is nothing like The DHS Fellows Program that enhances one’s analytical and writing skills. It is also a Fellowship that enhances capacity building in universities. I encourage faculty engaged in demographic and health research to take advantage of this fellowship while it is offered.

Thanks to Elizabeth for contributing to The DHS Program blog! If you are interested in becoming a DHS Fellow, we are currently accepting applications for the 2017 program. Learn more here>>

Read some of Elizabeth and Patricia’s published work:

ELIZABETH NANSUBUGA is a faculty member in the Department of Population Studies at Makerere University, Uganda. She holds a Ph.D. in Population Studies. She is passionate about research that impacts policy and society. Her research interests are geared towards the improvement of maternal and child health with a major focus on characterization of maternal near misses. Her other research interests include sexually transmitted diseases, circumcision and gender issues. Her work is published in peer-reviewed journals. She is a recipient of several prestigious fellowships including the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholar, Population Reference Bureau Policy Communication Fellow, DHS Fellow, and African Doctoral Dissertation Fellow, among others. She has done consultancy work for several national and international organizations in the area of population and reproductive health. She is a member of several professional associations such as Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA), Population Association of America (PAA), and Union for African Population Studies (UAPS).

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14 Sep 2016

Reflections from Accra: A Look Back at the Regional Health Data Mapping Workshop

Group of participants and facilitators at the conclusion of the workshop

In August, The DHS Program Geospatial Team was in Accra, Ghana, hosting this year’s Regional Health Data Mapping Workshop to teach participants how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for public health decision-making and program planning. Participants, most of whom had never before used GIS in any capacity, learned the steps necessary to turn data from a table into a thematic map, working both together and independently to create maps and practice presenting them.

The workshop began with a review of Microsoft Excel techniques for cleaning and preparing indicator data to be used in a GIS software (for this workshop, the QGIS platform), which can often have very particular requirements for such data.  Once the data was cleared of errors and special characters, participants learned how to import this indicator data into a GIS and combine it with geographic data – stored in the form of a shapefile, which is a unique version of file type specifically used to store geographic information – merging the indicator data of a particular region or district to the shape of that area in the map.  Participants were then taught how to colorize the map appropriately, showing the difference between areas, emphasizing regions with higher or lower prevalence with intuitive color schemes, and overall making a visually appealing map.

Participants work in QGIS during a hands-on practice session

After completing four days’ worth of exercises and making maps under the guidance of the facilitators, participants had the opportunity to make their own maps from start to finish on the fifth day. Participants independently prepared these maps using their own program data or data from The DHS Program Spatial Data Repository. Each person had three minutes to present their map to the group and receive feedback on what worked well and identify areas for improvement. This allowed the participants to practice speaking about and presenting a map – an intangible but equally important skill.

Map made by one of the participants, using DHS data from Liberia

Map made by one of the participants, using DHS data from Liberia

While the workshop was focused on teaching participants the skills they needed to use GIS as part of their work, it also stressed the notion that participants would take these skills and knowledge gained in Accra back to their home countries and offices and pass on this information to their coworkers. We hope participants found this workshop to be informative, practical, and not least enjoyable!

Stay tuned for our final blog post, where we will be highlighting one participant in particular! Read the previous blog post in this series here.

For those who did not attend this workshop, The DHS Program offers numerous spatial data and GIS resources that can be used to self-teach. If you are interested in participating in future workshops, follow us on social media or sign up for our email alerts.

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27 Jul 2016

Connecting GIS and Public Health: 2016 Regional Health Data Mapping Workshop

Participants from Kenya and Zambia discussing their hand drawn maps.

In August, The DHS Program Geospatial team is hosting this year’s Regional Health Data Mapping Workshop in Accra, Ghana. The workshop will focus on the application of Geographic Information System (GIS) in public health, specifically using maps for better program and policy decisionmaking. This will be a basic workshop that introduces participants to data concepts including management and cleaning of data in Microsoft Excel, introduction to GIS concepts (including GPS data collection), using maps as part of the decisionmaking process, and hands-on introduction to QGIS, an open source GIS software package.

Participant from Zambia working on a 3-D data visualization activity.

We are excited to share mapmaking skills with a new group of participants! From finalizing the venue, selecting participants, and preparing the curriculum, we are working hard to organize everything for the workshop. Selecting the workshop participants was the most difficult part of the process so far but in the end, 20 participants were accepted out of the 600 that applied!

In 2015, we hosted a similar workshop in East Africa and also had over 600 applicants for 20 spots. We believe this continued show of interest indicates how important a skill mapmaking is, and the great need for this skill in the health sector across the world. The workshop curriculum facilitates learning these skills via guided activities, group work, and hands-on software activities where participants get to show off their hard work!

This year’s workshop specifically targets West African countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo) and two others, Chad and Egypt, where The DHS Program has recently done or will soon be doing a household survey.

Applicants didn’t need to be experts in GIS to be selected – in fact, we preferred that they weren’t! We wanted applicants with little to no GIS experience, though certainly sought those with an interest in learning and strong data skills. In our selection, we focused on individuals with current positions within government ministries, development partners, and local universities. We hope that participants use their newfound health mapping skills to improve the use of DHS data and other data for decisionmaking in their home countries, and also to teach others in their home offices.

Participants from Tanzania practicing GPS data collection skills.

Even individuals who do not attend the workshop can still benefit from the learning of those who do and also from self-taught learning through our many mapmaking and data analysis-related resources at The DHS Program. These include the Spatial Data Repository, STATcompiler, Spatial Analysis Reports, and video tutorials.

I will be co-facilitating the workshop, so stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on how it all went!

30 Mar 2016

Model Datasets to the Rescue

Have you ever wanted to start immediately working on a DHS dataset, but didn’t have a research topic? Or didn’t want to take the time to register for access? Well, The DHS Program now has the cure for all your data analysis woes!

The DHS Program has created model datasets so users can become familiar with datasets without having to register for access. These datasets have been created strictly for practice and do not represent any country’s actual data. Model datasets are based on the DHS 6 Questionnaire and Recode. They include data on all standard survey characteristics, as well as data on domestic violence, female genital cutting, adult and maternal mortality, and child labor.

You might be thinking, how can I use these datasets? Model datasets can be used for many different purposes, including:

  • Replicating standard final report tables
  • Practicing calculating complex indicators
  • Teaching statistical concepts and procedures

Team members from Nigeria participating in the 2016 Regional DHS/MIS Malaria Analysis Workshop

Recently, the model datasets were used in the 2016 Regional DHS/MIS Malaria Analysis Workshops in Uganda and Senegal. Since participants attending the workshop came from different countries with different DHS/MIS datasets, the curriculum and workshop exercises were standardized using the model datasets. After going through the model dataset examples, participants then worked with their country’s specific data to match numbers in the final report. This was a great way for facilitators to make sure everyone was mastering the skill before participants worked on their own country’s data.

Model datasets have already had a starring role in our sampling and weighting tutorial videos. Future videos will also feature the model datasets, allowing users to follow along with the examples in the tutorial with their own statistical program.

Visit the Model Datasets page on The DHS Program website for more information. Users can pick and choose which data files to download, as well as download the full set of final report tables and sampling errors to check their work. Again, unlike datasets for specific surveys, users do not need to register in order to gain access.

If you have recently used the model datasets we want to hear from you! Comment below or email modeldatasets@dhsprogram.com to share your experiences with the model datasets or how you plan on using them in the future. You can also post questions about the model datasets on the User Forum.

16 Dec 2015

Engaging with DHS Data in Senegal

Days like today are why I love my job. “Thematic data use workshops are the most important part of the survey,” Fatou CAMARA, director of the Senegal Continuous Survey at l’Agence Nationale de la Statistique et la Démographie (ANSD), tells me over dinner. “They’re also my favorite,” she adds. I couldn’t agree more. It’s always rewarding to watch people engage directly with data from The DHS Program surveys, but even more so when it’s the women and men who manage a country’s health programs.

Representatives from ANSD, the Ministry of Health and Social Action, and USAID officially open the thematic workshop.

Representatives from ANSD, the Ministry of Health and Social Action, and USAID officially open the thematic workshop.

The topics for the thematic workshop are maternal health, child health, and nutrition. Regional medical coordinators, reproductive health coordinators, and nutrition supervisors have come from all 14 of Senegal’s regions to participate. They are joined by the national maternal health, child survival, and nutrition program directors.

Senegal DHS and SPA Report CoversThe morning is packed with introductions and presentations on the relevant results from the Senegal Continuous Survey. Data is collected each year in Senegal and the results are designed to guide program planning, monitoring, and evaluation. The Senegal Continuous Survey has two parts: 1) the Continuous DHS, which collects data on households, women, men, and children; and 2) the Continuous SPA, which collects data on health facilities, health care providers, and clients receiving health care.

Participants review the dissemination materials for the Continuous Survey.

Participants review the dissemination materials for the Continuous Survey.

Questions and comments during the discussion following the presentations are intriguing. “We trained our health care providers on the integrated management of childhood illness, but the [survey] results show that they aren’t putting this into practice during sick child consultations.” “Almost a quarter of births still occur at home instead of health facilities, though the availability of delivery services is high. We need to increase our communication efforts with women.” Continuous SPA coordinator, Dr Ibou GUISSE, and the director of field operations for the Continuous DHS, Mabeye DIOP, do an excellent job of providing detailed answers and explanations.

The afternoon begins with an activity on how to read and understand tables from the Continuous Survey. Participants are guided step-by-step, from reading the title and subtitle to finding the totals in the table. Over lunch, a participant tells me that the activity is useful, “Previously, I sometimes struggled to make sense of the tables. Now I’m more confident.”

Participants identify priority actions from their regional strategic plans during group work.

Participants identify priority actions from their regional strategic plans during group work.

The rest of the day is dedicated to group work. Each region must identify two priority actions from their regional strategic health plans that will be completed in the six months after the workshop. They must also indicate specific results from the Continuous Survey that support the actions they have chosen. Finally, they must create an action plan for these priority actions, including next steps and deadlines. The groups are so engrossed in the group work that they continue well past 6 PM. Tomorrow, they will present their priority actions, supporting data, and action plans. I can hardly wait see to see the data in action!

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