We develop and apply state-of-the-art data science solutions to harness geographic data for better evidence-based policymaking.

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Kim R, Bijral AS, Xu Y, et al. Precision mapping child undernutrition for nearly 600,000 inhabited census villages in India. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2021;118 (18).Abstract
There are emerging opportunities to assess health indicators at truly small areas with increasing availability of data geocoded to micro geographic units and advanced modeling techniques. The utility of such fine-grained data can be fully leveraged if linked to local governance units that are accountable for implementation of programs and interventions. We used data from the 2011 Indian Census for village-level demographic and amenities features and the 2016 Indian Demographic and Health Survey in a bias-corrected semisupervised regression framework to predict child anthropometric failures for all villages in India. Of the total geographic variation in predicted child anthropometric failure estimates, 54.2 to 72.3% were attributed to the village level followed by 20.6 to 39.5% to the state level. The mean predicted stunting was 37.9% (SD: 10.1%; IQR: 31.2 to 44.7%), and substantial variation was found across villages ranging from less than 5% for 691 villages to over 70% in 453 villages. Estimates at the village level can potentially shift the paradigm of policy discussion in India by enabling more informed prioritization and precise targeting. The proposed methodology can be adapted and applied to diverse population health indicators, and in other contexts, to reveal spatial heterogeneity at a finer geographic scale and identify local areas with the greatest needs and with direct implications for actions to take place.
Rajpal S, Kim J, Joe W, Kim R, Subramanian SV. Small area variation in child undernutrition across 640 districts and 543 parliamentary constituencies in India. Scientific Reports. 2021;11 (1) :4558.Abstract
In India, districts serve as central policy unit for program development, administration and implementation. The one-size-fits-all approach based on average prevalence estimates at the district level fails to capture the substantial small area variation. In addition to district average, heterogeneity within districts should be considered in policy design. The objective of this study was to quantify the extent of small area variation in child stunting, underweight and wasting across 36 states/Union Territories (UTs), 640 districts (and 543 PCs), and villages/blocks in India. We utilized the 4th round of Indian National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) conducted in 2015–2016. The study population included 225,002 children aged 0–59 months whose height and weight information were available. Stunting was defined as height-for-age z-score below 2 SD from the World Health Organization child growth reference standards. Similarly, underweight and wasting were each defined as weight-for-ageþinspace}< -2 SD and weight-for-heightþinspace}< -2 SD from the age- and sex-specific medians. We adopted a four-level logistic regression model to partition the total variation in stunting, underweight and wasting. We computed precision-weighted prevalence of child anthropometric failures across districts and PCs as well as within-district/PC variation using standard deviation (SD) measures. For stunting, 56.4% (var: 0.237; SE: 0.008) of the total variation was attributed to villages/blocks, followed by 25.8% (var: 0.109; SE: 0.030) to states/UTs, and 17.7% (Var: 0.074; SE: 0.006) to districts. For underweight and wasting, villages/blocks accounted for 38.4% (var: 0.224; SE: 0.007) and 50% (var: 0.285; SE: 0.009), respectively, of the total contextual variance in India. Similar findings were shown in multilevel models incorporating PC as a geographical unit instead of districts. We found high positive correlations between mean prevalence and SD for stunting (rþinspace}=þinspace}0.780, pþinspace}<þinspace}0.001), underweight (rþinspace}=þinspace}0.860, pþinspace}<þinspace}0.001), and wasting (rþinspace}=þinspace}0.857, pþinspace}<þinspace}0.001) across all districts in India. A similar pattern of correlation was found for PCs. Within-district and within-PC variation are the primary source of variation for child malnutrition in India. Our results suggest the importance of considering heterogeneity within districts and PCs when planning and administering child nutrition policies.
Wang W, Blossom J, Kim J, et al. COVID-19 Metrics across Parliamentary Constituencies and Districts in India. 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In India, Parliamentary Constituencies (PCs) could serve as a regional unit of COVID-19 monitoring that facilitates evidence-based policy decisions. In this study, we presented the first estimates of COVID-19 cumulative cases and deaths per 100,000 population, and the case fatality rate (CFR) between January 7th, 2020 and October 18th, 2020 across 543 PCs and 721 districts of India. We adopted a novel geographic information science-based methodology called crosswalk to estimate COVID-19 outcomes at the PC-level from district-level information. We found a substantial variation of COVID-19 burden within each state and across the country. Access to PC-level and district-level COVID-19 information can enhance both central and regional governmental accountability of safe reopening policies.
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