Category Archives: New Staff

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


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.


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.


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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