USAID Celebrates 25 Years of Demographic and Health Surveys
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 18, 2009
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Since 1984, Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), conceived and funded largely by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has collected and disseminated high quality data that provide critical insight for decision makers to plan, monitor, and evaluate population, health, and nutrition programs. The DHS project staff has helped conduct some 260 surveys in over 90 developing countries. Widely cited by national governments and leaders, international and donor agencies, and USAID, DHS results have played a key role in policy development and in national health system strategy. The project uses consistent survey methods and questionnaires across countries to measure key indicators including infant and child mortality, fertility, family planning use, maternal health, child immunization, and malnutrition levels. Beginning in 2001, DHS began measuring HIV prevalence in national surveys, leading to an international reassessment of both the extent and epidemiology of the AIDS epidemic.
"The DHS is the gold standard of high quality and reliable data that are comparable across countries and over time. These data lets us monitor trends across the health program areas and set evidence-based priorities for intervention and policy change," said Gloria Steele, deputy assistant administrator of the Bureau for Global Health at USAID, adding, "The data also enhance our ability to report on our progress to Congress."
USAID highlights five reasons why DHS has been so successful: a strong technical foundation, independence, quality of data, continuous improvement, and a commitment to stay the course with a sense of continuity and history. The project has strengthened the capacity of statistical institutions worldwide to conduct surveys and trained numerous individuals to disseminate and use the survey results. As a testament to DHS's success and utility, more developing country governments are now funding their own surveys, and in many countries, international donors regularly share the cost of conducting DHS surveys with USAID.
DHS survey results and data sets are widely available at no charge to program managers, health care providers, policymakers, researchers, journalists, and others interested in analyzing the data.
For more information about USAID, please visit www.usaid.gov