The geographical distribution of diagnostic medical and dental X-ray services in South Africa

Walters, N. M. ; Zietsman, H. L. ; N Bhagwandin, N. (1998)


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Aim. The aim of this study was threefold, viz.: (/) to evaluate the availability and accessiblity of medical and dental X-ray services in South Africa; (//) to evaluate geographical information systems (GIS) as a tool for management of health care technologies; and (Hi) to guide policy and develop a process to provide optimal utilisation of X-ray services in South Africa. Methods. Information supplied by the Department of Health on licensed X-ray equipment was integrated with census data and processed with GIS. Four key areas were assessed, viz. distribution, accessibility, age and availability of X-ray services in South Africa. Results. The analysis shows a vast inequity in the distribution of X-ray services on a provincial as well as a district level, although on the national level the distribution of X-ray services meets the World Health Organisation criteria. Conclusion. GIS is a useful tool in evaluating and planning of essential health services/techniques. However, care must be taken in interpreting the data on a macro level, as this masks vast inequities on the district level. Recommendations. The indicators of coverage should be expanded, similar reports should be prepared for the nine provinces, and these data should be integrated into the clinic planning programme. Radiological services should be added to and managed as part of an essential district health care technology package.

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