223711 Health policy impact of the Demographic and Health Surveys program

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 10:50 AM - 11:10 AM

Jacob Adetunji, PhD , Global Health Bureau, USAID, Washington, DC
Madeleine Short, MPH , Bureau for Global Health, USAID, Washington, DC
Rachel Lucas, PhD , Bureau for Global Health, USAID, Washington, DC
Noah Bartlett, MPH , Bureau for Global Health, USAID, Washington, DC
Lisa Maniscalco , Global Health Bureau, USAID, Washington, DC
Yoonjoung Choi , GH/Prh/PEC, USAID, Washington, DC
Nisha Sarpal, MPH , GH/Prh, USAID, Washington, DC
Over the past 25 years, the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) program, funded largely by USAID, has conducted over 260 national surveys in over 80 countries and has become one of the most reliable sources of nationally representative and cross-nationally comparable health data in the developing region. The DHS program aims to promote evidence-based policies and programming through improved collection, analysis, and dissemination of good data.

This paper highlights the contributions of the DHS to health policies in participating countries and shares some of the secrets of its success. It is based on a review of published and unpublished documents as well as key informant interviews conducted by the USAID Project Management Team.

Available evidence shows that DHS data have fostered the development and implementation of evidence-based health programming and policies in developing countries and within the international donor community. For example, DHS findings in Egypt directly led the government to pass a law prohibiting female genital cutting in the country. They also led the government of India to make significant changes to its nutritional supplementation program. The results of population-based HIV sero-prevalence surveys have had major effects on HIV/AIDS program in several countries.

The paper concludes by highlighting some of the secret of the success of this program. They include a strong technical foundation, independence of the data, a focus on quality of data, continuous improvement to methods, and a commitment to stay the course with a sense of continuity and history.

Learning Areas:
Biostatistics, economics

Learning Objectives:
Describe ways in which the US-sponsored program of international survey data collection, analysis and dissemination has promoted and improved evidence-based health policies and decisions over the past 25 years. Identify and discuss specific examples of health policies and programs that are direct results of findings from the Demographic and Health Surveys program.

Keywords: Health Information, Statistics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I oversee this project and have worked as its Senior Technical Adviser for several years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.