GIS as a Decision Support Tool in Health Informatics: Spatial Analysis of Public Dental Care Services in Sri Lanka
Our study aimed to demonstrate the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to assess the distribution of public dental clinics in Sri Lanka by developing a baseline population based geographic model. Population data was obtained from the Population & Housing Census (2001) and socioeconomic data from the Household Income & Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2002. Public dental clinic locations were obtained from the office of the Chief Dental Officer. About 3 million people (11.7%) out of a total of 2.2 million lived in Divisional Secretariat (DS) divisions devoid of public dental clinics were further disadvantaged by poverty prevalence rates exceeding 30% in their respective divisions. Moreover, 14% of the total population lived in a DS division without a public dental clinic. Of people below the poverty line, about 2.76 million lived in DS divisions where there was no public dental clinic. Therefore, it is concluded that distribution of public dental clinics in Sri Lanka has obvious limitations in serving the rural poor. The spatial approach provides a useful decision-support tool in health informatics with an enormous potential to harness in equity based public health care planning.
GIS; spatial analysis; public dental clinics; poverty; Sri Lanka.