DHS at Work
Madagascar's Ministry of Health and Family Planning prepared two strategic papers, relying heavily on the 2003-04 Madagascar DHS data. The first strategy was titled: A New Strategy: Family Planning Programme 2005-2009 while the second focused on the National Action Plan for Nutrition 2005-2009. DHS staff also supported a series of provincial MDHS dissemination seminars during which both papers were used for provincial planning.
Dissemination and Data Use
The DHS Program disseminates research results and facilitates their use in program design and evaluation through participatory seminars, audience-centered materials, web-based tools, and other technologies that translate data into information accessible to a wide range of audiences.
The DHS Program staff work with national survey implementers to create a series of PowerPoint presentations that summarize the major findings of each of the chapters of a DHS, AIS, or SPA report. These presentations are usually given by representatives of the implementing agency, Ministry of Health, or other coordinating organizations at the national seminar. These presentations are usually distributed locally for use among interested parties.
DHS staff create a variety of additional print materials to complement the final survey report. The usual package of materials for a survey includes:
Depending on the needs of the country, other print materials can be developed, such as policy briefs, topic-specific summary reports and fact sheets, or posters aimed at different audiences.
A one-day summary of DHS findings often does not provide enough depth or opportunity for discussion, so DHS also provides assistance in the coordination of regional or topical seminars to follow the national seminar.
The DHS Program staff work with local and global media to disseminate survey results as widely as possible. When country survey results are released, national media representatives are always invited to national seminar presentations, and DHS staff provide them with press releases and additional information to support news stories, such as the Journalists' Guide to the DHS. When possible, DHS staff help to organize press briefings which allow for a question and answer period between local journalists and the key researchers and government officials involved with the survey. Journalists are encouraged to contact DHS staff for assistance and story ideas.
In some cases, DHS staff also run a more formal journalists’ training. This usually consists of a half-day workshop in which local TV, newspaper, and radio journalists learn about the major results of the survey, brainstorm story ideas, and learn how to wade through the tremendous amounts of survey tables. In Ethiopia, for example, eleven journalists representing Ethiopia TV (ETV), the Ethiopia News Agency (ENA), the Ministry of Information, Ethiopian Radio, and 2 of the major daily papers, the Daily Monitor and the Capital, spent a half day following the national dissemination discussing the results and planning how to include DHS data in their future stories. Media training help to ensure that DHS findings are accurately represented in national media, as well as provide capacity building to journalists who often have little experience with statistics.
It is not enough to carry out a large-scale survey and display the final report on a bookshelf. DHS results are meant to be used to improve and monitor programs and policies. DHS staff have developed a number of curricula to assist local stakeholders in understanding and using DHS data.
As an example, a curriculum based on the 2003-04 Tanzania HIV/AIDS Indicator Survey (THIS) has reached hundreds of professionals working in HIV/AIDS and related fields. DHS staff partnered with Pact Inc., Pathfinder, and the Tanzania Commission on AIDS to create, pilot test, and carry out a three-day training aimed at HIV/AIDS program staff. The curriculum includes a detailed instructor’s guide and a variety of activities and handouts. The activities lead the group through the major findings of the THIS and help participants consider how the findings can be used in their work, whether it be through program planning, budgets, educational programs, or policy implementation.
As the world becomes increasingly connected via the internet, it has become essential to share survey results on The DHS Program website. Once country reports are finalized and results are disseminated nationally, survey reports and all supporting dissemination documents are posted on The DHS Program website. Survey data are added to the STATcompiler.