Started in 1984, the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) series is one of the longest running and largest survey families. It was preceded by the World Fertility Survey series and the Contraceptive Prevalence Surveys. Since its inception, the DHS has been largely funded by USAID, and since the late 80s, executed under the direction of Macro -- after Macro purchased the Institute for Resource Development (IRD) from Westinghouse. Macro has undergone various transformations (Macro Systems, Macro International, ORC Macro) and was briefly known as ICF Macro after ICF acquired Macro in 2009. The organization became ICF International in 2011.
Currently DHS data and reports are available from the Demographic and Health Surveys Program website: http://dhsprogram.com/
The site lists past and ongoing surveys and has tools for exploring DHS data. It generally offers data in Stata, SPSS, SAS and flat-file formats.
The DHS cover maternal and child health, nutrition and mortality topics. Each survey may include additional modules or country-specific questions that can cover a wide array of topics including wealth, occupation, housing conditions, exposure to mass media, attitudes toward contraception and reproductive health-related issues, AIDS, and malaria. The MEASURE DHS program also includes the Special and In Depth DHS, as well as the AIDS Indicator Surveys (AIS), Malaria Indicator Surveys (MIS) and the Service Provision Assessments (SPA), a facility survey series.
Generally DHS are conducted in countries that do not have the resources to conduct comprehensive surveys of this type on their own, and countries that have had DHS in the past ”graduate” from the program as they develop the capacity to conduct these kinds of surveys themselves. For that reason and because of the high standard set by the DHS, there are many surveys similar to the DHS that are not actually part of the series.
The list below shows DHS that are part of the standard DHS series.