Category Archives: News

28 Feb 2018

DHS Data in the News

Journalists worldwide use DHS, MIS, and SPA surveys as source data for essential stories – stories about domestic violence, HIV prevention, and child survival. Coverage of these topics brings awareness to these critical issues and often prompts policy change.

In any given month, DHS Program data are cited in hundreds of print, television, radio, and digital media across the world. While we can’t possibly review and share every example of accurate DHS data coverage in the news, we do highlight some of the best examples in The DHS Program’s News Room. The results from India’s 2015-16 National Family Health Survey have been featured in India’s biggest newspapers, and topics range from anemia prevalence to child marriage. A recent article from the Midrand Report in South Africa cites condom use data from the 2016 South Africa Demographic and Health Survey as an argument for voluntary male circumcision, and a Ghana News Agency article highlights adolescents’ needs for reproductive health services.

Using data from a reputable source like a DHS survey adds credibility and context to journalistic reporting. But covering topics such as mortality, fertility, and disease prevalence is not simple, and journalists often struggle to interpret DHS survey results and write about demographic and health data in language that is accessible for their audiences. Following a survey’s national release, The DHS Program’s dissemination team facilitates a workshop to educate journalists on reading and understanding DHS tables, accessing comparable data, and using data in reporting. Learn more about these media trainings in this reflections piece on a Journalist Workshop in Togo.

The DHS Program also has user-friendly tools, such as STATcompiler and the mobile app that allow journalists to verify the accuracy of DHS data used in their reporting. In addition to featuring news that accurately cites DHS data, we have a Journalists’ Guide to the Demographic and Health Surveys, available in both English and French. This guide provides tips on how journalists can properly use DHS data in their stories.

Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or email press@dhsprogram.com to share your accurate news story with DHS data for a chance to be featured in The DHS Program’s News Room.

Photo credits: 1) Officials from the Ethiopia Ministry of Health and Central Statistics Agency answer questions at the 2016 Ethiopia DHS National Seminar press conference; 2) Dr. Thet Thet Mu of the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports responds to questions from the press at the launch of the 2015-16 Myanmar DHS. © 2017 ICF

22 Feb 2018

A New Way to Interact with your Favorite Indicators

We are pleased to showcase a new mini-tool on our website that allows you to quickly interact with indicators for topics such as family planning, gender, malaria, and nutrition. We have preselected 10-15 key indicators per topic that you can view by country or globally.

Simply navigate to your favorite topic to see a trend visualization from the most recently released survey. Then, select either a country or indicator within the drop-down menus to instantly see results. To start over, click “Reset” to return to the featured trend graphic.

Indicators are pulled from The DHS Program Application Programming Interface (API). As you click on a country or indicator within the data table, hyperlinks direct you to STATcompiler. There, you can compare even more indicators over time and geographically.

With the 1,000s of demographic and health indicators available, grouping key indicators by topic allows you to quickly interact with DHS data. Visit The DHS Program Topics page for a list of the featured topic pages containing the mini-tool.

What other topics do you want to see? Let us know what you think in the comments section below! Don’t forget to subscribe to The DHS Program newsletter for more updates on our digital tools, surveys, and more.

Photo Credit: © 2001 Marcel Reyners, Courtesy of Photoshare

27 Dec 2017

The Best of DHS 2017

Another year has passed at The DHS Program, and we’re looking back at some of our best moments throughout the year! Just to name a few:

    

  • We introduced the first DHS Program online sampling course.

 Happy New Year from The DHS Program!

Watch the full video here:

16 Nov 2017

José Miguel Guzmán Elected 2017 IUSSP Laureate

We are honored to announce that The DHS Program’s Regional Coordinator, José Miguel Guzmán, was recently named the 2017 International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) Laureate. He was elected by the IUSSP Council in recognition of his lifetime achievements in population issues and influence on research, training, and public policy.

Earlier this month, IUSSP organized the International Population Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, drawing more than 2,000 scholars, policymakers, and government officials to discuss the latest in population research. Each year IUSSP honors one of their members by bestowing its laureate award. The laureate honoree is nominated by IUSSP council members and selected by secret ballot. The candidate must be a member of IUSSP for 20 years and be nominated by five or more IUSSP members from different countries.

The DHS Program is proud of José Miguel’s contribution to population and social policy, capacity strengthening, research and service for the last four decades.  Congratulations, José Miguel Guzmán!

Watch the full Facebook Live stream of the IUSSP award ceremony in Cape Town, South Africa. Click here to watch on the IUSSP Facebook page, or watch the video below.

International Union for the Scientific Study of Population – IUSSP award ceremony
IUSSP Laureate ceremony in honor of José Miguel Guzman Molina

Posted by International Population Conference on Monday, October 30, 2017



José Miguel Guzmán, Regional Coordinator
Before joining The DHS Program, Dr. Guzman was the Chief of the Population and Development Branch at UNFPA, New York. Dr. Guzman brings to the regional coordinator role more than 25 years of experience in research, capacity strengthening, and data collection on population and health issues, including population dynamics and interlinkages with poverty, environment and climate change, aging and other related issues. Dr. Guzman has more than 15 years of experience in managerial and supervisory roles in international programs. Dr. Guzman has provided technical assistance to more than 30 countries, in Latin America,  Africa, and Asia and has extensive experience in translating data for non-technical audiences. Guzman has received several awards, including the 2017 IUSSP Laureate Award.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the International Population Conference Facebook Live Stream

26 Jul 2017

Five Ways IPUMS-DHS Can Simplify Your Life

Have you ever formatted what you thought were your final models only to discover that:

  • The survey question you used for your dependent variable had five rather than four variations across surveys?
  • There are two other samples (not in your analysis) in which respondents were asked precisely the question that interests you?
  • There is a better question on women’s employment than the one you’re currently using?
  • A key question was asked about all daughters under 14 in one country but all daughters under 19 in another?
  • The survey skip patterns differ significantly across surveys?

These are among the DHS equivalents of missing the nail and hammering your thumb. Ouch!

Fortunately, with IPUMS-DHS, you can put the metaphorical Band-Aids away. IPUMS-DHS, constructed at the Minnesota Population Center, is a web-based tool for accessing DHS data. It makes error-free comparative analysis (across time or countries) easy. IPUMS-DHS currently covers Africa and Asia and includes 23 countries, 101 samples, and 5000 variables. Why not give it a try?

1) See at a glance which surveys asked certain questions, how, and of whom.

Choose a topic from the drop-down list to see which samples include the groups of questions you want. Click on a variable name to see a comparison across countries. The tabs will guide you to codes and a description (which is especially great for constructed variables, like “Unmet Need”) and a discussion of comparability issues.

2) Compare the frequency of responses to questions and more without downloading a data file.

Clicking on the variable name will also bring up, for every sample, frequencies of responses, an explanation of who was asked the question (called the “Universe”) and an English-language version of the question text.

3) Trust that the same variable name and codes have same substantive content.

While the DHS standard variables simplify researchers’ work, even standard variables (such as V130, RELIGION) may have different responses or varying amounts of detail across samples. Non-standard variables’ names differ widely across DHS samples. IPUMS-DHS gives variables with the same substantive meaning consistent names and codes. This “integration” of the DHS data lets you analyze the data immediately, without investigating and resolving differences across samples.

 

4) Create a customized data file with multiple samples in minutes, and change it just as quickly.

With IPUMS-DHS, you can create a dataset tailored to your specific needs in a snap. Just log in using your existing DHS Program user ID and password, browse variables and samples, and add the ones you want to your “data cart.” (Despite the analogy, the data are completely free.) Indicate your preferred file format and, a minute or two later, your data will be ready to download, unzip, and analyze.

Did you forget a control variable? Want to add information from an additional sample? No problem. Just return to your data cart, click “Revise” and then “Change,” and you can instantly add or subtract variables and samples, and download the new, revised data file.

We encourage you to check out IPUMS-DHS. It could change your life (or at least your research).

Special thanks to our guest blog contributors, Elizabeth Boyle and Miriam King!

Elizabeth Heger Boyle, is Professor of Sociology & Law at the University of Minnesota. She studies the role of international laws and policies on women and children’s health around the world. She has written extensively on the impetus for and impact of laws related to female genital cutting, including the book Female Genital Cutting: Cultural Conflict in the Global Community. Her current research focuses on abortion policies globally and their effects; this includes a 2015 article in the American Journal of Sociology. Professor Boyle is currently co-Principal Investigator (with Dr. Miriam King) on IPUMS-DHS, a National Institute for Child Health and Development grant that integrates Demographic and Health Surveys over time and across countries to make them more user-friendly for researchers. Professor Boyle has a Ph.D. in Sociology from Stanford University and a J.D. from the University of Iowa.

Miriam L. King is a Senior Research Scientist at the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota.  She has managed data integration projects on the U.S. Current Population Survey, the U.S. National Health Interview Survey, and, most recently, the Demographic and Health Surveys.  Her research has focused on the history of the U.S. census, data integration methods, U.S. historical fertility differences, living arrangements, and disparities in access to insurance for same-sex couples.  Dr. King has a Ph.D. jointly in Demography and History from the University of Pennsylvania.

24 Apr 2017

The DHS Program at the 2017 PAA Annual Meeting

The DHS Program research team at the 2016 PAA Annual Meeting

We are pleased to announce that The DHS Program and staff will be attending this year’s Population Association of America (PAA) Annual Meeting in Chicago from April 27-29.

PAA is a nonprofit, scientific, professional organization established to promote the improvement, advancement, and progress of the human race through research of problems related to human population.

The DHS Program has been participating in the PAA Annual Meeting over the last few years and we are excited to share our recent surveys and other publications.

If you plan to attend PAA, visit booth #200 for your copy of free survey publications and tours of our new web and mobile tools. Several DHS staff will also be presenting posters, sessions, and will be available to answer any questions you may have about DHS data and results.

View the full DHS staff participation schedule here.

We are looking forward to seeing you there!

11 Apr 2017

New Data Available from DHS-7 Questionnaire: Maternal and Pregnancy-Related Mortality

Baby Kabuche, 30 yrs old, 4 months pregnant, outside her house. Baby has 2 children: Eric, 12, living with granparents in Musoma and Judith, 6, living with her and her husband. She works in a factory manufacturing alluminium pots and iron rods. But as she becqme pregnant she took some unpaid leave as the factory uses acid and other toxic materials and she cares for the safety and health of her baby. Baby got malaria only once as she sleeps under mosquito net all the time. This new one makes her happy as it is treated with mosquito repellent and it is more effective.

© 2016 Riccardo Gangale/VectorWorks, Courtesy of Photoshare

In 2014, The DHS Program began the process of updating the standard DHS questionnaires. With input from stakeholders, feedback from in-country implementing agencies, and a host of lessons learned from the previous 5-year program, we added, modified, and, in some cases, deleted questions. For many indicators, the actual questionnaire did not require an adjustment, but the calculation of indicators or the tabulation of the data needed an update to reflect new international indicators and best practices.

While questionnaire revision started in 2014, it can take a long time to see this exercise bear fruit. The 2015-16 Malawi DHS, for example, went into the field with the DHS-7 updated questionnaires in October 2015. The final report and dataset for the 2015-16 Malawi DHS were released in March 2017, allowing us to explore the new data for the first time.

In this blog series, New Data Available from DHS-7 Questionnaire, we will be detailing, topic by topic, some of the key changes to the questionnaire, with a focus on why the changes were made, how the changes affect the tabulations, and some guidance on how the resulting data should be interpreted.

Part 1:  Maternal and Pregnancy-Related Mortality

DHS surveys now collect data to provide the maternal mortality ratio in line with the definition provided by WHO. For almost 30 years, The DHS Program has collected data on maternal mortality in a subset of countries. In previous DHS cycles, maternal mortality was defined as any death to a woman while pregnant, during childbirth, or within two months of delivery. The WHO definition of maternal mortality is more precise:  any death to a woman during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of delivery but not from accidental or incidental causes (see full WHO definition here). The new DHS-7 questionnaire allows us to calculate the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in closer alignment with this more precise WHO definition.

As always, women interviewed in the DHS are asked to list their siblings. The interviewer then collects information about the siblings’ survival status. In the case of female siblings who have died at age 12 or older, the interviewer inquires whether or not the sister died during pregnancy, childbirth, or within the 2 months following delivery. If the sister died within 2 months after childbirth, the interviewer asks how many days after childbirth the sister died. This clarification on the number of days is a new addition to the DHS-7 questionnaire. The interviewer then asks additional questions to determine if the death was accidental or due to violence. In DHS-7 these deaths are excluded from the calculation of the MMR per the WHO definition.

Why?  These changes were made to improve the precision of the MMR, as well as to align the DHS estimation of the MMR with the standard definition provided by the WHO.

Implications:  While the newly added questions allow for a more precise and up-to-date measure of maternal mortality, the change does present challenges for interpretation. DHS has reported on maternal mortality for 30 years, but estimates obtained using the new definition of maternal mortality cannot be directly compared to the old definition of maternal mortality which included deaths up to 2 months after delivery and did not exclude deaths due to accidents and violence.

And yet, one of the main objectives for conducting DHS surveys is to provide trend data. Fortunately, the old definition of maternal mortality can still be applied to calculate the mortality ratio estimate comparable to estimates from previously collected mortality data. This less precise measure of mortality is referred to as the pregnancy-related mortality ratio (PRMR).

DHS reports that include the maternal mortality module will now contain both the maternal mortality ratio and the pregnancy-related mortality ratio. The maternal mortality ratio will be used as the primary point estimate, but the pregnancy-related mortality ratio will be shown in an additional table and in figures to illustrate the trend. Keep in mind that the new measure of maternal mortality, by definition, will result in a lower maternal mortality ratio than the old measure because the accidental and violence-related deaths to women during the maternal period and deaths occurring between 42 days and 2 months after childbirth are being excluded from maternal deaths while using the new definition but included while using the old definition.

Summary of Maternal Mortality and Pregnancy-related Mortality:

Maternal Mortality Ratio The number of maternal deaths to any woman during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of delivery excluding accidents and acts of violence per 100,000 live births More precise Not comparable to surveys before DHS-7
Pregnancy-related Mortality Ratio The number of pregnancy-related deaths (deaths to a woman during pregnancy or delivery or within 2 months of the termination of a pregnancy, from any cause, including accidents or violence per 100,000 live births Less precise Comparable to previous surveys; shown to allow for trend  interpretation

The DHS-7 questionnaire includes additional prompts to fully capture more siblings and siblings’ deaths. In previous DHS questionnaires, women were asked to list their siblings in order and then were asked follow-up questions about their survival status. In the DHS-7 adult mortality module, respondents are asked to list their siblings without worrying about their order but are then asked a list of probing questions to ensure that all siblings have actually been recorded. This change is likely to produce a more complete list of siblings for which information on adult and maternal mortality is collected. Once a complete list is produced they are then ordered and the questions on their survival status and age or age at death and years since death, as well as the maternal mortality related questions, are then asked as applicable. 

Why?  Several studies have suggested that respondents’ lists of siblings are not always complete. This often happens when the sibling is a half-brother or sister, when the sibling did not live with the respondent as a child, or when the sibling has died. A pre-test in Ghana indicated that the addition of these probing questions resulted in capturing additional siblings for about 10% of women.

Implications:  Omissions in the sibling history can affect the adult and maternal mortality ratios in different ways. The inclusion of more siblings tends to increase the adult mortality rate. This is because often the siblings who were previously omitted were not spontaneously mentioned because they have already died. However, studies suggest that these deaths are not disproportionately maternal deaths, so a more complete sibling listing might result in a lower maternal mortality ratio.

Key Take-Aways

The changes described above may sound confusing for non-demographers.  The major points to remember for DHS data users include:

  • The new Maternal Mortality Ratio is not comparable with previous measures of maternal mortality in DHS surveys
  • For trends, look at Pregnancy-related Mortality Ratio
  • Despite the different names, both measures include deaths during pregnancy. The MMR is a more precise measure as it excludes some of the deaths during pregnancy that were not related to pregnancy (i.e. accidents and acts of violence).
  • Maternal mortality is still a relatively rare event, and therefore both MMR and PRMR have wide confidence intervals. Both measures are always presented with their confidence interval so that the user can draw their own conclusions about the relative certainty of the point estimate.
10 Feb 2017

Where Statistics are Beautiful

Hans Rosling created a world where “statistics are beautiful” and data are entertaining. The staff at The DHS Program have always believed these things to be true but found it difficult to convince the masses. And then came Gapminder and the juggernaut of Hans Rosling’s charismatic, informative, and perspective-changing data presentations.

The DHS Program was heartbroken to learn of Hans Rosling’s death earlier this week. DHS has enjoyed a long and enthusiastic relationship with Dr. Rosling. In 2009, The DHS Program and USAID had the honor of welcoming Dr. Rosling as our keynote speaker at the DHS 25th anniversary celebration in Washington, DC. What is particularly striking in watching the video again after 8 years, is the laughter. Before Hans Rosling, no one would have believed that a data presentation could be so engaging and witty while being so insightful.

In addition to being entertaining and informative, Dr. Rosling was exceptionally modest and gracious. He came to the DHS 25th anniversary event at his own cost, and credited USAID and DHS data with his own success. He thanked USAID and the US taxpayers saying, “Nothing in my career would have been possible without DHS data.”

But really we, at The DHS Program, owe Hans Rosling a tremendous debt of gratitude. Dr. Rosling was a great advocate not just for DHS data, but for all data. He understood, better than anyone else, that data are worthless unless they are used. And he succeeded in doing what many of us have attempted and failed:  he made data come alive.  He used the data to expose the many incorrect notions about development that even people working in the field have, and he did it with such unique charm and flair. His presentations inspired people to think in different ways and to take action.

To Hans Rosling’s family, we thank you for sharing Hans with the world, and for so willingly joining his mission to “edutain” us. All of us at The DHS Program mourn the loss of this warm, generous visionary. This week, more than ever, we commit to continue the work that Hans has started, and will be inspired by Hans Rosling’s leadership and ingenuity as we look for new ways to provide the world with actionable, understandable data.

08 Feb 2017

Update: Downloadable Citations for DHS Final Survey Reports Now Available

Is this how you look when you’re compiling your references?
via GIPHY
A recent DHS comparative report included references to 52 Demographic and Health Surveys.  You could spend hours entering bibliographic information, or you can download the citations directly into your reference software.

In 2015, The DHS Program announced the availability of downloadable citations for all DHS analytical reports.

And now, in 2017, we are pleased to announce that the reference information for ALL (more than 300 of them!) DHS, SPA, MIS, and AIS final survey reports are also available for download. As with the previous release, citation information can be downloaded in two ways:

-Individually on each publication page or

-As part of a full library of DHS Final survey reports:

Endnote capture

We’ve also provided some additional information on our recommended citation style, and how to achieve it in the various reference management software. Read more about downloadable citations and citation styles on our website.

25 Jan 2017

A New DHS Questionnaire: Interviewing Fieldworkers

There’s a new survey in town. But it’s probably not what you expect. For 30 years, The DHS Program has trained thousands of fieldworkers to conduct over 300 surveys – but who are these fieldworkers? It is well documented that interviewers affect the quality of the data being collected, for example, in the areas of response rates and response validity. So what interviewer characteristics lead to the best data quality? Have fieldworkers worked on a DHS survey before? Are the fieldworkers similar to the respondents they are interviewing? Until now, answers to these and other questions have not been quantified.

fieldworker

© Blake Zachary, ICF

In 2014, The DHS Program piloted a fieldworker survey in Cambodia. Data were collected from all 114 fieldworkers. We collected information on their age, sex, marital status, religion, educational level, experience with other surveys, and languages spoken. Taken on their own, the survey results may not be all that interesting. About three–quarters of the fieldworkers had been educated beyond secondary school, almost half had been involved in a previous DHS survey, and about one-third had no children. But when these survey results are compared with DHS response rates and results, they may help to explain certain patterns.

Take, for example, the question of child mortality. Our new DHS fieldworker questionnaire asks if an interviewer has had a child who died. Is this interviewer more likely to collect accurate data on infant and child mortality? Or might she try to avoid the topic?

While all interviewers undergo intense training on the DHS questionnaires, the rapport between interviewer and interviewee is integral to data quality. Will survey respondents be more likely to refuse participation in the survey if the interviewer appears to be better educated or too young? Are unmarried interviewers sufficiently comfortable asking questions about sexual practices, family planning, and child birth? Are experienced interviewers better interviewers or are they too jaded to do a good job?

The pilot study in Cambodia proved that collecting information from interviewers was both feasible and potentially informative. Starting with the 2015 Zimbabwe DHS, the fieldworker questionnaire has been a standard part of the survey, and the dataset is released along with the traditional DHS survey dataset.Zimbabwe dataset

The potential research questions are endless. And now, with the first public release of the fieldworker survey dataset as part of the 2015 Zimbabwe DHS, analysts will be able to explore these data themselves.

The information provided on this Web site is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

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