Geographical Software Applications for Health Sector Planning: Experiences from a Study for Famine Management
The use of geographical techniques in the health sector has been an issue of increasing interest. Along with facilities in graphic presentations rendered easy by new software techniques in computers, mapping and related interpretations of numerical data has captured the attention of health care specialists as an useful tool. The stumbling block, however, has been the potential for analysis and the concrete uses that such a marriage would bring. The resolution and the accuracy of the data used in the health sector is generally far below the standards required for the proper application of geographical tools. Terminologies and underlying concepts also differ sufficiently to make interdisciplinary initiatives difficult. Despite these hurdles, in 1987, within a study financed by the World Health Organization (WHO) on information systems for famine management in Africa, the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research on Disaster Epidemiology (Brussels, Belgium) experimented with a specific application of geographical techniques for health sector planning. Although applications of geographical techniques were not the principle objective of the study, the potential for geographical information systems for health priority-setting and optimal planning, especially in situations where a rapid response is required, was considered worth a certain investment in research and development for appropriate applications.
KeywordsGeographical Information System Health Sector Rift Valley Fever Principle Objective Geographical Information System Application
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