The Demographic and Health Surveys Program

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A field worker speaks with a woman holding a child.
DHS field practice in Liberia
Photo credit: Joanna Lowell/The DHS Program

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) uses data to drive our decisions and influence progress toward our goals of preventing child and maternal deaths and controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

For over 30 years, USAID has pioneered The Demographic and Health Surveys Program (DHS Program). The DHS Program provides technical assistance for the implementation of more than 320 household and facility-based surveys in 90 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America/Caribbean and Eastern Europe. Data collected through the DHS Program have deepened and transformed our understanding of population, health and nutrition issues around the world.

Digital Resources allows users to make custom tables, charts, and maps based on hundreds of demographic and health indicators across more than – countries.

The DHS Program Mobile App is available in the Mac App and Google Play stores, and allows users to access key indicator data, maps, and basic survey information on mobile devices.

The DHS Program Learning Hub offers open courses on reading DHS data tables, essential statistics, malaria trends, and more, available for free with a simple registration.

The Code Share Library on GitHub offers open access to Stata, SPSS, and R code for DHS Program indicators.

The Application Programming Interface provides access to aggregated indicator data that can be used to create applications to analyze, visualize, explore and disseminate DHS Program data.

The Spatial Data Repository provides geographically-linked health and demographic data for mapping in a geographic information system (GIS).

The DHS Program YouTube channel features tutorial videos.

The DHS Program works with governments to collect and share key information about people, their health and their health systems. This information includes infant and child mortality, fertility, family planning use, maternal health, child immunization, malnutrition levels, HIV prevalence, and malaria. Anyone can access the data from these surveys, and the indicators are comparable over time and across countries. 

Governments, donors, researchers, and civil society (such as faith-based organizations and other domestic and international organizations) use the information from these surveys to inform health-related programming, policies, funding priorities, and research.

  • In Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Tanzania, DHS Program data have informed programs to promote breastfeeding and improve child nutrition.
  • In Burma, the Ministry of Health and Sports used DHS Program data in the design of a “Love and Life” mobile app designed for youth.
  • In Colombia, DHS Program data informed the development of an adolescent sexual health curriculum.
  • In India, based on DHS Program Data, the Supreme Court of India criminalized marital sex with women and girls who are under the age of 18.
  • In the Philippines, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, DHS Program data helped target distribution of hygiene kits.
  • In South Africa, advocacy campaigns for smoke-free cities used DHS Program data.
  • In Uganda, a mobile app created by university students used DHS Program data to connect survivors of intimate partner violence to resources.

How USAID Uses DHS Program Data

Data entry for the Demographic Health Survey in East Timor, courtesy of the DHS Team at USAID.

The DHS Program exemplifies the Agency’s commitment to building the evidence base to support effective program and policy making while ensuring data openness and transparency. Data collected by the DHS Program allow USAID to monitor trends across health program areas and set priorities for funding, interventions and policy changes.


Useful Resources

Last updated: July 08, 2022

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