Evaluation of spatial accessibility to primary healthcare using GIS
Keywords: Health accessibility, spatial accessibility, primary healthcare
Abstract. Primary health care is considered to be one of the most important aspects of the health care system in any country, which directly helps in improving the health of the population. Potential spatial accessibility is a very important component of the primary health care system. One technique for studying spatial accessibility is by computing a gravity-based measure within a geographic information system (GIS) framework. In this study, straight-line distances between the associated population clusters and the health facilities and the provider-to-population ratio were used to compute the spatial accessibility of the population clusters for the whole country. Bhutan has been chosen as the case study area because it is quite easy to acquire and process data for the whole country due to its small size and population. The spatial accessibility measure of the 203 sub-districts shows noticeable disparities in health care accessibility in this country with about only 19 sub-districts achieving good health accessibility ranking. This study also examines a number of different health accessibility policy scenarios which can assist in identifying the most effective health policy from amongst many probable planning scenarios. Such a health accessibility measuring system can be incorporated into an existing spatial health system in developing countries to facilitate the proper planning and equitable distribution of health resources.