Changing geographic access to and locational efficiency of health services in two Indian districts between 1981 and 1996

Soc Sci Med. 2004 May;58(10):2045-67. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2003.08.019.


In developing countries, including India, the role of the private sector in the provision of basic healthcare services is gradually expanding, since the public sector provides limited services and covers only limited areas. Using location-allocation models (LAM), this paper (1) examines the changing geographic access to and locational efficiency of basic public healthcare vis-à-vis private healthcare services in two districts located in northwestern part of India, and (2) interrogates the factors that govern their geographic accessibility and locational-efficiency. Although this research confirms regional inequalities in geographic accessibility and locational efficiency of both public and private healthcare services in the selected districts, the locational efficiency of private health services is significantly lower than that of public health services. This paper further demonstrates the use of LAM for new site identification (keeping the existing healthcare sites intact) that will, in the future, improve locational efficiency of these services. This paper not only recommends improved geographic access to both public and private health services and their enhanced complementary role, but also stresses the need to evaluate geographic access from the service-users' perspective and the use of more realistic data on demand and supply in future research. The findings of this paper can be extended to areas with similar geographic settings, and socio-economic and demographic conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Catchment Area, Health*
  • Developing Countries
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Geography
  • Health Care Reform
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • India
  • Logistic Models
  • Private Sector / organization & administration*
  • Public Sector / organization & administration*
  • Rural Health Services / supply & distribution
  • Urban Health Services / supply & distribution