Geographic Information Systems
Geographic information systems (GIS) are designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage, and present geographically referenced data. GIS-generated maps are good tools for communicating information that allows users to quickly interpret the displayed information without detailed explanations.
For example, GIS is used in mapping areas of high rates of HIV transmission or incidence of malaria. These maps can and have been used in monitoring and evaluation of health systems from as far back as 1854, when Dr. John Snow depicted a cholera outbreak in London using points plotted and overlaid on a map to represent the locations of individual deaths in relation to water sources.
As part of its support to the Department of Health (DoH), MEASURE Evaluation Strategic Information for South Africa (MEval-SIFSA) assists with building the capacity of health department staff and partners to use GIS tools. These tools contribute to monitoring and evaluation (M&E), data quality improvement, and data use that improve health planners’ understanding of what strategies and interventions are needed to improve the health status of citizens and enable better management and planning of health service delivery.
MEval-SIFSA’s focus is skills enhancement of program managers, information officers, data capturers, and M&E staff for both government and PEPFAR implementers in the use of GIS data and tools, working primarily at provincial and district levels. Our strategy is to identify people who will be champions for GIS use to enable compliance with the requirements of the District Health Management Information System (DHMIS) policy for GIS data to be used in routine monitoring, planning, and reporting on HIV treatment and care and other health programmes.
The project hopes to create awareness within the health sector of the power of GIS, develop capacity to use it, assist the government in implementing its GIS strategy, develop current spatial data sets to be properly stored and maintained for strategic information, produce maps on project implementation progress, and develop up-to-date GIS data for evidence-based decision making.