The Geography of Universal Health Coverage
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Geographic information systems (GIS) is a powerful data integration platform to visualize and analyze the geography of universal health coverage, including specific programs such as malaria control and elimination.
The use of GIS can mean the difference between believing that health service provision or social health protection is improving, and knowing that interventions are in fact reaching their intended target and addressing the health needs of particular population groups.
- Accurate information about access to quality health care services with data that is sufficiently granular to expose disparities among marginalized or remote populations is key to achieving universal health coverage (UHC).
- Geographic information systems (GIS) are one of the suite of information and communication technology ICT-enabled solutions recommended by ADB and WHO to address health system resiliency and UHC inefficiencies.
- It is already feasible to use simple yet innovative GIS solutions that can utilize geospatial and statistical data for UHC and infrastructure investment planning.
- For vertical disease programs, GIS is an essential tool to ensure they effectively target the relevant population groups. National malaria elimination programs must be equipped to identify the location of cases and know whether there is adequate access to testing, treatment and follow-up.
- The health sector can only fully benefit from the power of GIS if its health information system (HIS) is “geoenabled,” meaning that the necessary governance, technical capacity standards, and processes are in place to support the generation of quality geospatial information and a proper use of GIS across the entire health sector.
- For Ministries of Health in Asia and the Pacific to capitalize on the power of GIS, guidance and support to geoenable their health information system is invaluable. ADB and WHO, together with private sector partners, are working to establish a GIS Laboratory for the Asia and the Pacific, under the umbrella of the Asia eHealth Information Network (AeHIN) to help countries use GIS to reveal health service delivery gaps, relationships and trends that may not be otherwise evident.