Estimating access to health care in Yemen, a complex humanitarian emergency setting: a descriptive applied geospatial analysis
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Background In conflict settings, data to guide humanitarian and development responses are often scarce. Although geospatial analyses have been used to estimate health-care access in many countries, such techniques have not been widely applied to inform real-time operations in protracted health emergencies. Doing so could provide a more robust approach for identifying and prioritising populations in need, targeting assistance, and assessing impact. We aimed to use geospatial analyses to overcome such data gaps in Yemen, the site of one of the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian crises. Methods We derived geospatial coordinates, functionality, and service availability data for Yemen health facilities from the Health Resources and Services Availability Monitoring System assessment done by WHO and the Yemen Ministry of Public Health and Population. We modelled population spatial distribution using high-resolution satellite imagery, UN population estimates, and census data. A road network grid was built from OpenStreetMap and satellite data and modified using UN Yemen Logistics Cluster data and other datasets to account for lines of conflict and road accessibility. Using this information, we created a geospatial network model to deduce the travel time of Yemeni people to their nearest health-care facilities. Findings In 2018, we estimated that nearly 8·8 million (30·6%) of the total estimated Yemeni population of 28·7 million people lived more than 30-min travel time from the nearest fully or partially functional public primary health-care facility, and more than 12·1 million (42·4%) Yemeni people lived more than 1 h from the nearest fully or partially functional public hospital, assuming access to motorised transport. We found that access varied widely by district and type of health service, with almost 40% of the population living more than 2 h from comprehensive emergency obstetric and surgical care. We identified and ranked districts according to the number of people living beyond acceptable travel times to facilities and services. We found substantial variability in access and that many front-line districts were among those with the poorest access. Interpretation These findings provide the most comprehensive estimates of geographical access to health care in Yemen since the outbreak of the current conflict, and they provide proof of concept for how geospatial techniques can be used to address data gaps and rigorously inform health programming. Such information is of crucial importance for humanitarian and development organisations seeking to improve effectiveness and accountability. Funding Global Financing Facility for Women, Children, and Adolescents Trust Fund; Development and Data Science grant; and the Yemen Emergency Health and Nutrition Project, a partnership between the World Bank, UNICEF, and WHO.
Link to resourcehttps://doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(20)30359-4
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