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What Can We Learn about Equity in Health and Health Care from the Demographic and Health Surveys? The Case of Zambia

hea Rutstein, February 3, 1998.

The seminar dealt with the use of data from the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) program to identify poor-rich health differences. DHS data, drawn from comparable household studies in over 50 developing countries have not traditionally been thought suitable for this purpose, since the DHS questionnaire contains no income or expenditure questions. However, Shea Rutstein of the DHS secretariat noted that the surveys collect a great deal of information about household characteristics like the availability of electricity and running water, type of flooring and housing, number of rooms per person, etc. These can be aggregated into a single asset or wealth index, making poor-rich comparisons possible. He demonstrated this approach, and also the use of alternative social status indicators like language and level of education, with DHS data from Zambia.

(The ideas presented in this seminar subsequently led to the development of a refined version of the asset index, and its application to DHS data for all the countries covered by the DHS program. For more on this, see Country Information Sheets on Health, Nutrition, Population and Poverty.

Download the complete seminar report (9kb PDF file).

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