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Role of GIS in public health management in Pakistan

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3 Author(s)
Mubushar Hussain ; Nat. Univ. of Sci. & Technol., Islamabad ; Mudassar Hassan Arsalan ; Mohammed Raza Mehdi

Important objects in health databases are patients, doctors, infrastructural facilities, and health services. Nevertheless, all these objects have spatial dimensions and mutual interaction in their inheritance. The understanding of these dimensions and interactions are the key for health planning and management. For instance, these interactions may provide an excellent means of analyzing epidemiological attributes, revealing spatial trends, dependencies, and inter-relationships that would be more difficult to discover through conventional means. Moreover, it allows policy makers to easily visualize the problems in relation to the resources and prevailing needs. Spatial dimensions of health data give detailed and compelling answers to the difficult questions health service providers ask every day: Where is the disease coming from? How will it spread? Where is the nearest hospital? What is the fastest route for the ambulance? Where should we allocate our funding? In existing databases and systems of health management at public and private sectors in Pakistan, no authenticated and specific spatial reference is available. However, in a few cases, ambiguous and misleading references are there. Some isolated efforts are on the way to maintain such information as some private hospitals and companies maintain data which is commercially-available for pharmaceutical companies for marketing. The situation is getting worse due to rapidly increasing populations and thus creating further gaps in health services demand. The spatial contexts in accurate format are vital for integrating health attributes in the form of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) especially at the micro-scale. There are many potential users, but the major users will include National and Provincial health departments, Planning Commissions, researchers, etc. Undoubtedly, a health objects database could be a huge and difficult task to manage. Nonetheless, in Pakistan, precedence from National Database and Re- - gistration Authority (NADRA) is a good example of how to handle the quantity. Patients are the most dynamic health objects to deal with. It can be integrated using a NADRA identity card or similar, which contains a data strip that is readable digitally. This card may have personal information as well as the spatial origin.

Published in:

IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine  (Volume:23 ,  Issue: 7 )