Category Archives: New Staff

12 Oct 2017

The New Nutrition Team

Hemoglobin analysis in DHS surveys in carried out with a portable HemoCue analyzer.

Did you know that nutrition is one of the most published topics using data from The DHS Program? This shows what a major resource The DHS Program is for nutrition-related policy, programs, and research. Recognizing the important contribution of nutrition data, two new nutrition experts have recently joined The DHS Program team, Drs. Sorrel Namaste and Rukundo K. Benedict.

As our new nutrition experts, they will manage all aspects of nutrition data collection and use, working to:

  • Ensure provision of high-quality nutrition data within The DHS Program
  • Explore innovations for nutrition data in low- and middle-income countries
  • Support evidence-based programming and policies with relevant and timely nutrition data
  • Build capacity in nutrition data measurement, analysis, and use around the world

Some of The DHS Program’s recent activities on nutrition include the new Hemoglobin report, and we are also currently seeking applications for the 2018 DHS Fellows Program. To stay up-to-date with more nutrition activities, sign up for our upcoming nutrition newsletter.

So join us in welcoming our new nutrition team in the comment section, and learn more about them in their bios below. If you still have any questions or comments, you can reach out to them directly at nutrition@dhsprogram.com.


Dr. Sorrel Namaste is the Senior Nutrition Technical Advisor for The DHS Program. She is an epidemiologist with expertise in nutrition assessment and implementation research. Dr. Namaste has a particular interest in the use of data to strengthen the feedback loop between the scientific, policy, and implementation communities. Prior to joining The DHS Program, she was the Anemia Team Lead for the USAID-funded SPRING project. In this capacity, she provided technical assistance to governments to develop national strategies, supported program implementation, and contributed to the formation of global policies. Previously, she also worked for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where she was responsible for supporting large-scale global nutrition research projects. While at NIH, she served as the co-principal investigator on the Biomarkers Reflecting Inflammation and Nutrition Determinants of Anemia (BRINDA) Project. She completed her DrPH at George Washington University and holds an MHS from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Global Epidemiology.

Dr. Rukundo K. Benedict is a Nutrition Technical Specialist for The DHS Program. She is a public health nutrition practitioner with expertise in infant and young child feeding (IYCF), water-sanitation hygiene (WASH), community health systems and the delivery of integrated interventions in low-resource settings. Prior to joining The DHS Program, she worked as a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University on policy and program relevant projects. She led a project with UNICEF South Asia to examine the epidemiology of breastfeeding in South Asia and to explore the effectiveness of strategies to support breastfeeding and maternal nutrition and infant feeding counseling. She also conducted implementation research on the delivery of nutrition and nutrition sensitive interventions by community health workers in the Sanitation Hygiene Infant Nutrition Efficacy (SHINE) trial in rural Zimbabwe. She has a PhD in International Nutrition from Cornell University and an MSPH from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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Photo Caption: Hemoglobin analysis in DHS surveys in carried out with a portable HemoCue analyzer

07 Dec 2016

Spotlight on New Staff: Julia Fleuret

Name: Julia Fleuret

Position title:  Survey Manager

Languages spoken: English and French

Favorite type of cuisine: Anything not involving hardboiled eggs.

Last good book you read: Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?: A Story of Women and Economics, by Katrine Marcal – very funny analysis/critique of traditional economic thinking.

When not working, favorite place to visit:  The northern California coast for gorgeous hiking/scenery.

Where would we find you on a Saturday?  Yoga, farmers’ market, library/bookstore – then back home for a baking project.

First time you worked with DHS survey data: During my first semester getting my MPH at Tulane I used Mali DHS data in a nutrition class.

What is on your desk (or bulletin board/wall) right now?  My desk is a mess, so let’s focus on the bulletin board: a postcard from Kansas City, a ticket from a highlife concert in Accra, art flyers from Kampala, and a snapshot (from the days of film cameras!) of a tailor’s door in Bamako.

2011 Uganda DHSWhat is your favorite survey final report cover?   I am partial to the 2011 Uganda DHS and its cheerful jumble of sunflowers, although that might be because I’ve been carrying it around for the last 6 months while supporting the 2016 Uganda DHS (which is currently in the field.)

Favorite chapter or indicator, and why?  I feel like nutrition is the foundation of health, so the children’s anthropometry results in Chapter 11 (Nutrition of Children and Adults) is one of the first things I look at in a report.

What’s your favorite way to access The DHS Program’s data?  I am in some ways a dinosaur, and I like hard copies of reports.

What population or health issue are you most passionate about?  Why? Since starting at the DHS I’ve become more interested in collecting data to understand more about disability in a population – both for the overall prevalence of disability but perhaps more interestingly, to look at health outcome disparities by disability status. We developed an optional module on disability for use in the Household Questionnaire (based on the Washington Group on Disability Statistics’ Short Set of Disability Questions) and it will be interesting to see if more countries adopt it and how they use those data.

What are you most looking forward to about your new position?  Well, I’ve been here for just under 18 months, so I’m not sure I’m new anymore – but I am really looking forward to seeing the data as they come out for Uganda, and working with the implementing agency to put out the Key Indicators Report and Final Report early next year.

What has been your biggest surprise so far?  The iodine test kits really work! I mean, I didn’t expect them to not work – but I felt like a magician actually turning the salt sample purple!

What do you look forward to bringing to The DHS Program (job-related or not!)? A sense of humor & the results of the aforementioned baking projects.

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20 Jul 2016

Spotlight on New Staff: Trinadh Dontamsetti

Name: Trinadh Dontamsetti

Position title: Health Geographic Analyst

Languages spoken: English, Spanish, Telugu

When not working, favorite place to visit:  You mean other than grandma’s house to get some home-cooked food? I have a definite soft spot for my hometown of Tampa, Florida and its perpetually great weather (and mom’s home-cooked food).

Favorite type of cuisine: I can’t say I’ve got a favorite, if only because I’ll eat anything and everything that looks good.  I most often catch myself cooking Italian or Chinese food, however.

Last good book you read: “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl.  While really heavy, it’s one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read.

Where would we find you on a Saturday?  Any number of places, depending on the time! A typical Saturday includes a long workout at the gym, a longer drive on winding roads (it’s my go-to stress relief), and a trip into DC to undo my workout by eating far too much.

First time you worked with DHS survey data: During my Master’s program at the University of South Florida, using 2013 Nigeria DHS GPS data as part of a study on schistosomiasis transmission.

What is on your desk (or bulletin board/wall) right now?  I’m a minimalist, so not much (that’s a better way of saying I’m too lazy to decorate).  I do have a tiny, magnetic alpaca that a friend brought me from Peru, and I plan to surround him with souvenirs once I get back from my first DHS trip to Ghana!

What is your favorite survey final report cover?   2010-11 Senegal DHS.  I’m a huge fan of geometric art.

Favorite chapter or indicator, and why? One of my major focuses during my Master’s program was vector-borne disease (specifically Integrated Vector Management as an alternative way of combating these diseases), so the indoor residual spraying indicator is of particular interest to me.

What’s your favorite way to access The DHS Program’s data?  You can’t go wrong with the Spatial Data Repository (SDR) and STATCompiler!

What population or health issue are you most passionate about?  Why?  I’ve been most fascinated and passionate about studying tuberculosis (TB), given that it’s been around for so long and yet continues to be such a burden all over the world.  With few exceptions, I focused almost all of my projects during grad school (including my final thesis) on studying some aspect of TB.  Since there’s so much overlap between TB and other diseases (most notably HIV/AIDS), I’ve been trying to familiarize myself further with the HIV/AIDS work done by DHS so that I can get a better understanding of the interplay between these two diseases.

What are you most looking forward to about your new position?  I’m extremely excited that I’ll be working on analytical projects and conducting research as part of my work here, which makes all those late nights in the computer lab during grad school doing analytical projects and conducting research seem just a little bit more worth it in the long run.

What has been your biggest surprise so far?  The incredible amount of support I so routinely receive from everyone in the office as I settle into my position, and the continued opportunities I’m being given to learn new things but also contribute to ongoing projects by applying the skills I’ve brought in.

What do you look forward to bringing to The DHS Program (job-related or not!)? A public health-centric GIS perspective, an unhealthy obsession with food (did I mention it at least three times already in this post?), an even less healthy obsession with superheroes and cars, and a nearly endless supply of optimism and sarcasm (could this be any more cliché?).

17 Jun 2015

Spotlight on New Staff: Hamdy Moussa

Hamdy Moussa

Hamdy Moussa

Name: Hamdy Moussa

Position title: Survey Manager, Service Provision Assessment (SPA) Surveys

Languages spoken: Arabic and English

When not working, favorite place to visit: New York and Cairo

Favorite type of cuisine: Mediterranean and Italian

Last good book you read: Health Systems Performance Assessment: Debates, Methods and Empiricism, WHO

Where would we find you on a Saturday? With my family for outdoor activities and exploring the Washington metropolitan area.

First time you worked with DHS survey data: 2004 Egypt Service Provision Assessment Survey

What is on your desk (or bulletin board/wall) right now? 2014 Bangladesh Health Facility Survey (BHFS) as well as plans for the 2015 Egypt Service Provision Assessment Survey (ESPA) and 2015 Jordan Service Provision Assessment Survey (JSPA)

2012 Jordan DHS Final Report

2012 Jordan PFHS Final Report

What is your favorite survey final report cover? The 2012 Jordan Population and Family Health Survey with the wonderful photo of the monastery in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan.

Favorite chapter or indicator, and why?  Knowledge and prevalence of hepatitis C, as hepatitis C represents a major challenge to the health system in Egypt.

What’s your favorite way to access The DHS Program’s data? The website.

What population or health issue are you most passionate about?  Why?  Viral hepatitis is a critical public health issue in Egypt. The 2008 EDHS provided Egypt with the first nationally representative data on the scope of hepatitis C epidemic in Egypt. The survey found that 15% of women and men age 15-59 years had antibodies to the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in their blood, and 10% had an active HCV infection that represents a major challenge to the health system in Egypt.

What are you most looking forward to about your new position? First to be fully integrated in both SPA and DHS surveys, and second to manage more SPA surveys in different countries.

What do you look forward to bringing to The DHS Program (job-related or not!)? I am bringing my technical, consulting skills in health systems and biomarkers, and looking forward to learning more from the distinguished DHS Program staff.

22 Jan 2015

Spotlight on New Staff: Shireen Assaf

This part of a series of posts introducing readers to new staff at The DHS Program. Welcome,Shireen!

Shireen Assaf, Senior Research Associate

Shireen Assaf, Senior Research Associate

Name: Shireen Assaf

Position title:  Senior Research Associate

Languages spoken: English, Arabic and basic Italian

When not working, favorite place to visit:  Lebanon and Italy

Favorite type of cuisine: Mediterranean food (especially Middle-Eastern and Italian) but I also love Thai and Japanese.

Last good book you read: The Shoemaker’s Wife.

Where would we find you on a Saturday?  Either in some sort of exercise class or visiting my sister and her family in Arlington.

First time you worked with DHS survey data: During my Masters studies.

What is on your desk (or bulletin board/wall) right now?  Pictures of family and old pictures of Palestine.

Special Report on Intervention Zones in Niger based on the 2012 DHS

Special Report on Intervention Zones in Niger based on the 2012 DHS

What is your favorite survey final report cover?  The Special Report on Intervention Zones in Niger based on the 2012 DHS. Just look at that  face!

Favorite chapter or indicator, and why?  If I had to choose one indicator perhaps it would be modern contraceptive use. This one indicator can give you a lot of insight about a country, from demographics to gender issues.

What’s your favorite way to access The DHS Program’s data? STATcomplier for quick access to indicators and trends, and The DHS Program website for the final reports and other published material.

What population or health issue are you most passionate about?  Why?

Family planning and gender issues. So much still needs to be achieved in these areas and studying the factors associated with them is one of the issues I am passionate about. I am also very passionate about studying trends in various health indicators both temporal and spatial.

What are you most looking forward to about your new position?

I look forward to working on different analytical and research studies each year for different countries and topics. I love research and analysis and I am happy to be in a position that allows to me conduct analysis on new topics using new data each year. I am also looking forward to learning from my work here and from my colleagues who are all very cooperative and great to work with.

What has been your biggest surprise so far?

The national diversity of The DHS Program team. Also the amount of work required to manage the DHS in all its aspects; survey management, training, data processing, analysis, and dissemination.

What do you look forward to bringing to The DHS Program (job-related or not!)?

I look forward to bringing my research and analytical skills and to contributing the best of my abilities to The DHS Program research activities.

15 Apr 2014

Spotlight on New Staff: Mahmoud Elkasabi

This is the first in a series of posts introducing readers to new staff at The DHS Program. Welcome,Mahmoud!

Mahmoud Elkasabi

Mahmoud Elkasabi

Name: Mahmoud Elkasabi

Position title:  International Survey Sampling Statistician

Languages spoken: English and Arabic

When not working, favorite place to visit:  Chicago

Favorite type of cuisine: Mediterranean or Indian

Last good book you read: Azazeel, by Youssef Ziedan

Where would we find you on a Saturday?  With my daughter and wife, watching TV and going out together.

First time you worked with DHS survey data: In my thesis for my master’s degree. I used the 2005 Egypt DHS to explore landline telephone ownership, and to examine the differences between the landline-households and the non-landline-households.

What is on your desk (or bulletin board/wall) right now?  A lot of sampling textbooks.

What is your favorite survey final report cover?  The Peru 2012 Continuous DHS . The art work is very innovative and different.

Favorite chapter or indicator, and why?  Characteristics of Survey Respondents. This section gives me a quick idea about what a country looks like.

What’s your favorite way to access The DHS Program’s data?  I usually use http://www.dhsprogram.com.

What population or health issue are you most passionate about?  Why?  I’m always passionate about the HIV testing results. HIV indicators provide you with a tool to track the change in the HIV knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.

What are you most looking forward to about your new position?  To work closely with statisticians in different countries to develop the survey sampling design. Also, I’m looking forward to contributing to the capacity building of those statisticians, especially regarding the survey sampling designs and survey estimation. In addition, I also look forward to visiting different countries, seeing different cultures, and trying new food.

What has been your biggest surprise so far?  It is not always boring to work with one survey. With The DHS Program, each country has a different flavor and challenges.

What do you look forward to bringing to The DHS Program (job-related or not!)? I’m excited to be a part of The DHS Program team and I’m looking forward to applying what I have learned, and to gain more experience from all of the staff.

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