Research by Charles Darwin University has helped secure funding for a hospital that is under construction in the remote Boking district of West Timor.
The research led by Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods’ Rohan Fisher has resulted in the development of innovative planning tools to help build health infrastructure and improve health outcomes in remote communities.
“Easy access to health services is a key factor in assuring the best outcomes, particularly in this very poor region with severe maternal and neonatal health issues,” Mr Fisher said.
“Public health tools for planning service provision are often constrained, particularly in the developing world where access to basic data and analysis skills is limited.”
Working with the local health department in West Timor, Mr Fisher created software tools to help analyse access to services by using free open-source geographic information software (GIS) and modelling software.
“Through participatory engagement with communities and government, we were able to create map visualisations of travel time to government services,” he said. “This provides planning support for the location of new health services that would benefit the greatest number of people, such as the new hospital in Boking.”
He said the research developed a unique set of tools to explore the complexity of health service access, promote discussion and ultimately build an understanding of the issues involved in order to produce better planning outcomes.
The tools included an open source GIS travel time tool, which allowed the user to conduct travel time analysis, taking into account terrain, and then create a predictive map.
“While other tool sets have been developed to assist travel time analysis, this is the first based on free open source software,” Mr Fisher said.
He said the tools had the potential to be used for a broad range of service issues including education, emergency response and market access.
Find a link to the research report here. Story credit: Charles Darwin University newsroom.
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