The rural population of eastern Indonesia generally has limited access to health services due to rugged topography, poor roads and limited health resources. Moreover there are often no comprehensive audits of health infrastructure resulting in poor coordination of health resource allocation between levels of government. While clinical treatment is crucial, primary prevention is based on good quality health information and analysis. Over the last two years Charles Darwin University has been working to build capacity in health data collection and analysis in Nusa Tengarra Timor through their AusAUD funded project: Mapping health indicators and health infrastructure in eastern Indonesia.
Geographic information Systems (GIS) are powerful tools for data visualisation and analysis and are being increasingly used by public health professionals for planning, monitoring and surveillance. Through this project spatial data collection and visualisation technologies are being introduced to district health administrations in simple, intuitive and inexpensive forms to inform health service delivery. The result is colour coded maps that enable quick and easy assessment of local health trends. Such “health mapping” is now being used to inform health resource allocation, comprehensive health service audits and innovations in mother and child health care. This project has developed capacity at the Kabupaten and clinic level for health infrastructure and health indicator mapping to inform effective service delivery.
Participants commented that their previous exposure to GIS technology had been inappropriately complex and expensive whilst the software and training material developed by Charles Darwin University allowed for the easy adoption and integration of spatial mapping into their daily work. This project is part of a revolution in spatial data use that is seeing the decentralisation of spatial visualisation, in this case, to empower better service delivery to rural health workers in a developing country.
A short video describing this project can be seen here.
You can find out more about this project at healthpslp.cdu.edu.au.