Category Archives: From the Field

28 Aug 2018

From the Field: 2017 Ghana Maternal Health Survey

When I arrive in the cluster, Joyce, the team supervisor, is assigning households to interviewers Mercy, Cybil, and Naa. They are seated outside a shop—tablets out to receive their assignments over Bluetooth—while in a nearby household, their colleague Vera interviews a respondent as part of the 2017 Ghana Maternal Health Survey (GMHS). After Vera finishes with her interview, they will be moving onto the next cluster. Interviewers often make callbacks, setting up a time that is convenient for the respondent and returning to the household. They will be back here tomorrow.

We walk over to the household where Vera is conducting an interview. Vera asks the respondent if it’s okay for me to observe the interview, and she agrees. The respondent is making banku, stirring a steaming pot while she answers the questions. Her young son wanders in and out of the kitchen. When we get to the more sensitive questions in the questionnaire, Vera leans in, speaking softly to put the respondent at ease. At the end of the interview, Vera thanks her, and we head back to the car.

Mercy has the hand-drawn map of the next cluster; she studies it to find the landmarks that will help them identify the boundaries. After a brief car ride, we get out and walk, using the household listing map to make sure we are in the right place. Now I’m tagging along with Naa as she finds her first assigned household. She walks up, introduces herself and the survey, and asks for the head of household.

Naa and I visit three different households over the course of the afternoon. At one, the head of household calls her daughter on her mobile phone to ask her to come home and participate in the survey. The respondent arrives, and I’m in awe. I’m not sure I’d want to go to the trouble of cutting errands short to participate in a survey. It’s even more striking that this respondent is not unique in this regard; The DHS Program would not exist without all the respondents who generously agree to give us their time and attention.

I came to visit the team with Emmanuel, a member of the Ghana Statistical Service’s (GSS) Field Operations and Logistics Unit. As the afternoon comes to an end, he says he needs to head back to the GSS head office. As a man, he cannot observe individual interviews due to the sensitive nature of some of the questions, so he spent most of the afternoon by the car after checking in with Joyce and the interviewers and handing over additional paper questionnaires. The 2017 GMHS includes verbal autopsies – extensive questions about the circumstances of each death of a woman age 12-49 that took place in the past 5 years – and those interviews use paper questionnaires. In contrast, the household and woman’s questionnaires are completed using the tablets. Emmanuel and I head back, but the work continues into the evening for Joyce, Vera, Naa, Mercy, and Cybil.

To learn more about the 2017 Ghana Maternal Health Survey, watch the Key Findings video below:

Photo credit: © 2016 Sarah Hoibak VectorWorks, Courtesy of Photoshare

20 Apr 2016

From the Field: 2014-15 Uganda Malaria Indicator Survey (UMIS) Team

From left to right: Patrick, Aziza, Irene N., Doreen, Persis, Irene B. with Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) survey vehicle

During fieldwork for a household survey, survey teams visit households that are selected to represent an entire country. Respondents to the survey are as diverse as the country and live within mountains, valleys, deep in forests, and busy urban centers. These respondents allow survey teams into their homes to answer questions about themselves, their families, and their lives. While I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to meet and talk to so many people during survey fieldwork, there are certainly many challenges.

For the fieldwork phase of the 2014-15 Uganda Malaria Indicator Survey (UMIS), I spent a day with Patrick, Aziza, Irene N., Doreen, and Persis as they conducted interviews and tested children under 5 for anemia and malaria. Despite the challenges and even some homesickness, the team worked hard to collect data important to Uganda while enjoying the chance to travel throughout their country, make friends, treat children for malaria, and engage with different communities.

Patrick, Lab Technician

“When you test a person’s child and actually find he has malaria, at the end of the day you give them treatment and the guardians are usually grateful. You feel like you’ve helped out.”


 

AzizaAziza, Interviewer

“It has been hectic. It hasn’t been easy. But at the end of the day we get data, even when you are very tired!”

“I’ve gotten the chance to educate women in the village… This is a way we connect with people in the village.”

 

Irene-NIrene N., Interviewer

“Most times, we wake up at 6 so we can be on the road by 7 after breakfast. Then, we get in the field by 8, so each interviewer does 5 to 7 households and then test about 16 children in a day.”

 

Doreen, Nurse/Interviewer

“We realized that malaria is still a major problem. People are suffering. Young children under five are really suffering from malaria and also anemia.”

“It has actually given us an opportunity to appreciate and learn more about our communities, because you would not have ever imagined that malaria really exists and is killing so many people until you are there, testing and seeing positive rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs).”

Persis, Supervisor

“My motto is, ‘I don’t give up’ … when it comes to work I do it with all my heart. I don’t compromise work, I am really mindful of the quality at the end of the day.”

“I really wanted to work on the malaria survey because health is the first and foremost priority… I believe our work is good.”

The 2014-15 Uganda Malaria Indicator Survey (UMIS) was released on November 6th, 2015, and is the 2nd UMIS as part of The DHS Program. Fieldwork took place from early December 2014 to late January 2015. There were 17 teams for field data collection; each field team included 1 field supervisor, 3 interviewers (1 of whom was a nurse), 2 health technicians, and 1 driver. A total of 5,345 households were interviewed. The 2014-15 UMIS was implemented by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) and the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) of the Uganda Ministry of Health.

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The DHS Program, ICF
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