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Tirana, December 12, 2018 - The Ministry of Health and Social Protection and the National Institute of Statistics (INSTAT), in partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the United Nations in Albania launched the report of the Demographic and Health Survey 2017-2018 (DHS).

The Minister of Health and Social Protection, Ms. Ogerta Manastirliu emphasized that "This study confirms positive trends of increased access to health services for all citizens to their place of residence. The Demographic and Health Survey 2017-2018 will enrich the national and international database with significant demographic and health indicators which will feed and push for development of appropriate efficient policies to the benefit of good health and well-being of citizens. "

"Albania needs to find ways to use the opportunity provided by the Demographic and Health Survey to strengthen the capacity of national statistics in the health sector and to improve health information systems that produce regular and official data," the Swiss Ambassador, Mr. Adrian Maître said. "Health information should be in user-friendly formats that can be used by multiple users - policymakers, planners, managers, healthcare institutions, communities and individuals," Ambassador Maître continued.

"This survey fills the data gap and offers a new baseline to monitor progress towards national goals, including the National Strategy for Development and Integration, the global Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030) and EU integration.", underlined Mr. Brian J. Williams, the UN Resident Coordinator in Albania.

UNFPA Deputy Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia noted: “Data and findings generated from this survey are considered by UNFPA as very important for the prioritization of areas where we have to focus and contribute with our expertise and resources in Albania. And it is also very important from the regional and global perspectives.”

The Demographic and Health Survey 2017-2018 provides data on demographic patterns, fertility, family planning, maternal and child health, HIV and AIDS knowledge, nutrition, women's empowerment, lifestyles and related risk factors, and Non-Communicable Diseases, extremely useful for those who seek to understand the current situation in Albania and for government institutions and other actors to plan appropriate policies and programs.

"We congratulate the Albanian government for the study, because data and analysis are key to making good advocacy for every child in Albania. There is a positive trend to end the physical punishment of children and there is a growing trend of alternative non-violent disciplinary measures against children," said Roberto de Bernardi, UNICEF Representative in Albania.

The Director of INSTAT Ms. Delina Ibrahimaj presented some elements and main findings of the study. ADHS 2017-2018 relies on the data collected by a number of representative households. The study conducted over a 6 month period on the ground, September 2017 - February 2018, included about 15,823 families, 10,860 women aged 15-49 and 6,142 men aged 15-59 years.

The main findings of DHS 2017-2018 presented today reflect a positive trend of increased access to health services such as:

- 88% of women who have given birth over the last five years have received health services during pregnancy by qualified health personnel.

- 78% of women have performed more than four health visits during pregnancy.

- About 99% of births occurred in maternity hospitals and 100% of these births were assisted by qualified health personnel.

- Familiarization with family planning is almost universal in Albania, where 97% of interviewed individuals were aware of at least one contraceptive method.

- Condom is the most commonly used modern contraceptive method.

- There is a marked improvement in nursing children 0-5 years old compared to the first study of 2008-09. Currently, only 11% of children are stunted, 2% are wasted, 16% are overweight, and only 2% are underweight.

However, there is still need for investment in better policy development and implementation, and awareness raising programs in a number of areas such as Family Planning, HIV and AIDS, and so on.

The study was implemented by the Institute of Statistics (INSTAT) and the Institute of Public Health (IPH) under the direction of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and with the technical and financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Albanian Government, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Agency for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (UNWomen).