21 March 2006
Good data on health-related issues in developing countries is hard to find, especially if you need large samples and cross-country comparability. The latest round of the World Health Surveys (WHS) is starting to become available to researchers in the next months and might be one of the best surveys out there, in addition to the
Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS).
The current WHS has been conducted in 70 countries in 2000-2001. The survey is standardized and comes with several modules, including measures of health states of populations; risk factors; responsiveness of health systems; coverage, access and utilization of key health services; and health care expenditures. The instruments use several innovative features, including anchoring vignettes and geocoding, and seems to collect more information on income/expenditure than DHS does.
From the looks, WHS could easily become the new standard dataset for cross-country comparisons of health indicators, though for some applications it might be more of a complement than substitute for the DHS. As of now, the questionnaires and some country reports are online, and the micro-data is supposed to be available by the middle of the year at the latest.