Nurses' use of global information systems for provision of outreach reproductive health services to internally displaced persons

Prehosp Disaster Med. May-Jun 2008;23(3):s35-8.


Introduction: A long and protracted civil war compounded by the occurrence of nature-related disasters have forced thousands of Somalis to take refuge in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) to escape violence and seek shelter. Dwellers of these camps have limited accessibility to and affordability of the fractured healthcare facilities located in nearby towns. A free, outreach, mobile, reproductive healthcare delivery system staffed with nurses and using an ambulance guided by a global information systems (GIS) map was established to address the accessibility and affordability issues hindering provision of quality reproductive healthcare to the women in the IDP camps and in the outskirts of Baidoa City, Somalia.

Methods: All 14 IDP camps in Baidoa City were visited to determine the number of families/huts, and to acquire their global positioning system (GPS) central point locations. Global information systems (GIS) shape files containing major roads, river, and dwellings, and straight-line distances from the base clinic to each IDP camp were computed. The objective of creating and using this specially designed map was to help nurses in determining which camps realistically could be visited on a given day, and how best to access them considering the security situation and the condition of rain-affected areas in the city.

Results: Use of the GIS map was instrumental in facilitating the delivery of healthcare services to IDPs and ensuring that resources were adequately utilized. Free healthcare services were provided each work day for the month long duration of the project; 3,095 consultations were provided, inclusive of 948 consultations for children under the age of 16 years, and delivery of three babies.

Conclusions: Creation and use of a simple, need-specific GIS map in this pilot project effectively aided the logistical planning and delivery of mobile, outreach reproductive health services by directing the ambulance and nurses safely to accessible IDP camps in an area marred with long and protracted disasters from both natural and human causes.

MeSH terms

  • Geographic Information Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Nurses*
  • Refugees*
  • Reproductive Health Services*
  • Somalia