The role of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in fertility
control, sexual and reproductive healthcare
B. A. Gbolade1 and R. Maheswaran2
1St James’s University Hospital, Fertility Control Unit, Leeds, West Yorkshire,
UK, and 2University of Sheffield, Public Health GIS Unit, ScHARR, Sheffield,
South Yorkshire, UK
Introduction A GIS is a system for capturing, storing,
checking, integrating, manipulating, analysing and displaying data which are
spatially referenced to the Earth. Occurrence of significant variations in
health over small areas is well known to epidemiologists and health geographers.
This phenomenon drives the trend towards provision of primary care services at
the local level nationally and internationally, as one step towards providing
equal access to health services for those in equal need. However, clinicians are
generally not aware of the potential of this technology in their various fields
Objective To investigate, describe and illustrate the use and
importance of GIS in the field of Fertility Control, Sexual and Reproductive
Methods A search of electronic medical databases for and review of
publications detailing the use and importance of GIS in this field.
Relatively few numbers of publications were found detailing the use of GIS in
these fields. Publications identified include those detailing the use of GIS in
assessing access to reproductive health services, investigating HIV
heterogeneity and proximity of homestead to roads, examination of the supply of
and demand for abortion services, study of the geographic distribution of
hospitals with abortion facilities, investigation of travel distance to abortion
facilities and geographical variation in abortion ratios, travel distance to
abortion facilities and utilization of the facilities by different groups of
women, geographical analysis of racial variations in abortion, spatial
components of abortion, spatial distribution of teenage conceptions.
Clearly, there is an emerging role for GIS in fertility control, sexual and
reproductive healthcare, especially in health needs assessment, planning and
implementation, monitoring and evaluation, resource allocation, surveillance and
health impact assessment. Discussion will centre on use of GIS in these areas
with adequate illustrations.