The Application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to Improving Health Systems in the Upper East Region of Ghana

Asuo-Mante, Eric; Awoonor-Williams, John Koku; Yelifari, Lawrence; Boyer, Christopher; Schmitt, Margaret L.; Phillips, James F.

Despite the increased use of Geographic Information System (GIS) for health research, the technology is least used in settings where evidence based decision-making is needed most: High mortality settings of Africa where resource constraints impede the provision of essential care. This paper reports on a case study of GIS application in the Upper East Region (UER), one of the poorest regions in Ghana.
Ghana Health Service (GHS) workers were trained to use GPS handheld devices to gather waypoints (coordinates) of all health care facilities and amenities throughout the UER. The waypoints data were then exported to Excel spreadsheets and cleaned of all inconsistencies. The final data was imported into ArcMap 10.2.2 software for data manipulation, display, and analysis.
Preventive health issues portrayed by GIS visualization included a substandard access to potable water in one community and health facility deficiencies in the Binduri district. As examples of GIS morbidity surveillance, we map the temporal incidence of cholera in two districts, and evidence of a pattern in the seasonal outbreaks of cerebral spinal meningitis (CSM).
Results attest to the feasibility of using GIS to clarify health issues in a severely health service deprived setting, enabling public health authorities to optimize system responses where mostly needed. GIS technology has enabled health officials in the region to visualize the geographic pattern of disease outbreaks in ways that permit the imposition of efficient containment strategies.

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Also Published In

Journal of Global Health Care Systems

More About This Work

Academic Units
Population and Family Health
Sociomedical Sciences
Published Here
December 15, 2016