Mahler, H., Searle, S., Plotkin, M., et al. Global Health: Science and Practice (September 2015), 3(3): 503–515.
This article reported on efforts by Tanzania’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to use geographic information systems (GIS) to plan where to locate voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) outreach campaigns in two districts. These campaigns aimed to reach underserved areas with mobile teams to provide temporary VMMC services in clinics or other settings. Information on key issues such as population, roads and road conditions, staff availability, and health facility infrastructure were combined with demographic and service data in a central database to develop comprehensive, interactive maps. The maps showed where to locate mobile VMMC outreach. Following introduction of GIS, the program met 98 percent of its target of eligible males in the two districts. Many more men were reached in rural and non-health facilities each year after GIS initiation; the proportion of VMMCs in rural areas increased from 48 percent of total VMMCs in year one to 88 percent in year two, and 93 percent by the end of the project. The authors concluded that GIS was effective in informing strategic decisions about where to prioritize VMMC service delivery, particularly for mobile and outreach services. They noted that collaborating on mapping initiatives across different agencies and types of interventions would be efficient, and suggested that donors consider this approach to improve service delivery and share start-up costs.