Free and simple GIS as appropriate for health mapping in a low resource setting: a case study in eastern Indonesia

Despite the demonstrated utility of GIS for health applications, there are perceived problems in low resource settings: GIS software can be expensive and complex; input data are often of low quality. This study aimed to test the appropriateness of new, inexpensive and simple GIS tools in poorly resourced areas of a developing country. GIS applications were trialled in pilot studies based on mapping of health resources and health indicators at the clinic and district level in the predominantly rural province of Nusa Tenggara Timur in eastern Indonesia. The pilot applications were (i) rapid field collection of health infrastructure data using a GPS enabled PDA, (ii) mapping health indicator data using open source GIS software, and (iii) service availability mapping using a free modelling tool.

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