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International Health

Collecting Public Health Data Accurately, Faster And More Efficiently With Mobile Phone Surveys 

Data for Health Team in Zambia
Members of the Bloomberg Data for Health non-communicable disease team
at the Zambia Ministry of Health From left to right: Cho Ling, CDC Foundation;
Veronica Lea, CDC; doctoral student Adaeze Wosu, and
IH faculty member Dustin Gibson.

International Health (IH) faculty and students are working with government officials and technical experts across the globe to develop new ways of collecting non-communicable disease (NCD) data. Led by Professor Adnan Hyder, the Health Systems program director, the Hopkins team collaborates with colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the CDC-Foundation and the World Health Organization. Together, they're developing first-of-their kind systems and guidelines for conducting NCD mobile phone surveys. Still in the early stages, the team is collaborating with the governments of Bangladesh, Morocco and Zambia to roll out the first wave of surveys. These surveys will collect information on key NCD risk factors such as alcohol use, diet, and physical activity. Far less costly than traditional household surveys, they will also take far less time to complete as field work is minimized by now interviewing respondents over their own mobile phones. By collecting quality data more often at a lower-cost, policymakers and program managers will have more timely snapshots of public health and program performance, leading to better programs and improved health.

The team’s work is part of the non-communicable disease arm of the Data for Health Project, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Members include IH faculty Drs. Dustin Gibson, Alain Labrique, and George Pariyo, as well as Dr. Saifuddin Ahmed from Population, Family and Reproductive Health, and Joseph Ali, JD, from the JHU Berman Institute of Bioethics. Multiple students have also worked on the project, including Amanda Pereira, Brooke Farrenkopf and Adaeze Wosu. In the coming year, MSPH student Ted Keane and doctoral student Adaeze Wosu plan on traveling with team members to assist with implementing project studies in countries as part of their Center for Global Health Established Field Placements awards.