The application of geographic information systems (GIS) in identifying the priority areas for maternal care and services

BMC Health Serv Res. 2017 Jul 12;17(1):482. doi: 10.1186/s12913-017-2423-9.


Background: Improving maternal health is globally introduced as an important health priority. The purpose of this study is to identify the high priority areas which require more maternal health services in Kerman, Iran.

Methods: This is a descriptive cross-sectional study, performed in 2015. The literatures were first explored in order to extract geographic indicators and sub indicators relevant to the maternal health. Data were collected by the use of a questionnaire designed on the basis of AHP (Analytic Hierarchy Process) method. The validity and reliability of the questionnaire were confirmed by three medical informatics experts and test-retest method, respectively. Data were analyzed by Expert Choice software in order to specify the weight and importance of each indicator. The information were then added to Geographic Information System (GIS) to analyze and create the related maps.

Results: Women's access to hospitals plays an important role in identifying high priority areas which need maternal care and services. More than half of the mothers in Kerman have a moderate level of access to maternal care services. There is an association between facilities that are provided for pregnant women and the existence of healthcare centers. Moreover, there is a negative correlation between maternal death and the number of facilities provided for medical care and services for pregnant women.

Conclusions: The application of GIS provides us with the capability to identify high priority areas which need maternal care. According to current population policies in Iran and the probable increase in the fertility rate, it is wise to plan proper schedules to improve health care services for pregnant women in Kerman.

Keywords: Geographic information system; Iran; Maternal health services.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Geographic Information Systems*
  • Health Planning / methods*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Maternal Health
  • Maternal Health Services* / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult