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Demographic and health surveys (DHS) are nationally representative surveys which provide important information on people’s lives and health at a community, region and national level. From these surveys we can understand mortality data, patterns of health and social practices and identify needs and priorities, and track progress over time. DHS have been conducted in 90 low and middle income countries, and since 1984 the DHS Programme, funded by the United States Aid for International Development, and United Nations partners, has done over 300 DHS.1 DHS are especially important in countries where vital registration (registering of all births and deaths) is limited. In many countries DHS, or related multiple indicator cluster surveys (which are similar to DHS), are the only sources of population based health data.
The questions asked in DHS are mostly standardised, and there is scope for questions that differ from country to country, depending on the country context and disease burdens. All DHS report data on child mortality, with estimates of under-five, infant and neonatal mortality rates. They provide data on maternal and reproductive health, including antenatal clinic attendance, proportions of births that involve a skilled birth attendant, location …
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.