A geographical perspective on access to sexual and reproductive health care for women in rural Africa

Soc Sci Med. 2013 Nov;96:60-8. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.07.025. Epub 2013 Aug 3.


Utilization of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services can significantly impact health outcomes, such as pregnancy and birth, prenatal and neonatal mortality, maternal morbidity and mortality, and vertical transmission of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS. It has long been recognized that access to SRH services is essential to positive health outcomes, especially in rural areas of developing countries, where long distances as well as poor transportation conditions, can be potential barriers to health care acquisition. Improving accessibility of health services for target populations is therefore critical for specialized healthcare programs. Thus, understanding and evaluation of current access to health care is crucial. Combining spatial information using geographical information system (GIS) with population survey data, this study details a gravity model-based method to measure and evaluate access to SRH services in rural Mozambique, and analyzes potential geographic access to such services, using family planning as an example. Access is found to be a significant factor in reported behavior, superior to traditional distance-based indicators. Spatial disparities in geographic access among different population groups also appear to exist, likely affecting overall program success.

Keywords: GIS; Geographic access; Health care; Mozambique.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Family Planning Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Mozambique
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproductive Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Spatial Analysis