WHO's Multi-Country Studies Programmes

The Multi-Country Studies (MCS) unit runs the Longitudinal Studies Programme in the Department of Health Statistics and Information Systems at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. It works with partners in countries to implement cross-sectional and longitudinal studies across the world in a range of topics that are of public health importance, but neglected in other multi-country survey exercises. The focus of the unit is on adult health and well-being in lower and middle income countries, engaging in methodological development, primary data collection, secondary data analysis and data dissemination. Recent and current nationally representative surveys include the 2000-01 Multi-Country Survey Study, 2002-04 World Health Surveys, and 2007-10 Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE), with ongoing contributions to the World Mental Health Surveys.

Special SAGE sub-studies focus on specific high priority topics: such as HIV and older persons, through a collaboration with two countries to examine the direct and indirect impacts of HIV/AIDS on older adults (SAGE-WOPS); maximizing utility of ongoing data collection efforts, including the partnership with INDEPTH health and demographic surveillance system fieldsites to implement SAGE in geographically defined areas (SAGE-INDEPTH); and, testing of new measurement methods, for example testing self-reported and measured physical activity levels, and assessing how well the measurement of happiness performs across countries.

New waves of data collection are ongoing or planned for SAGE (2013 and 2015), SAGE-WOPS (2013) and SAGE-INDEPTH (2013), along with validation studies such as, improving reliability of self-reported chronic conditions, and comparing dried blood spot to whole blood assay results in matched samples.