Nepal

Equity of geographical access to public health facilities in Nepal

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Analysis
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Wen-Rui Cao, Prabin Shakya, Biraj Karmacharya, Dong Roman Xu, Yuan-Tao Hao, Ying-Si Lai

Abstract

Introduction

Geographical accessibility is important against health equity, particularly for less developed countries as Nepal. It is important to identify the disparities in geographical accessibility to the three levels of public health facilities across Nepal, which has not been available.

Methods

Based on the up-to-date dataset of Nepal formal public health facilities in 2021, we measured the geographical accessibility by calculating the travel time to the nearest public health facility of three levels (ie, primary, secondary and tertiary) across Nepal at 1×1 km2 resolution under two travel modes: walking and motorised. Gini and Theil L index were used to assess the inequality. Potential locations of new facilities were identified for best improvement of geographical efficiency or equality.

Results

Both geographical accessibility and its equality were better under the motorised mode compared with the walking mode. If motorised transportation is available to everyone, the population coverage within 5 min to any public health facilities would be improved by 62.13%. The population-weighted average travel time was 17.91 min, 39.88 min and 69.23 min and the Gini coefficients 0.03, 0.18 and 0.42 to the nearest primary, secondary and tertiary facilities, respectively, under motorised mode. For primary facilities, low accessibility was found in the northern mountain belt; for secondary facilities, the accessibility decreased with increased distance from the district centres; and for tertiary facilities, low accessibility was found in most areas except the developed areas like zonal centres. The potential locations of new facilities differed for the three levels of facilities. Besides, the majority of inequalities of geographical accessibility were from within-province.

Conclusion

The high-resolution geographical accessibility maps and the assessment of inequality provide valuable information for health resource allocation and health-related planning in Nepal.