Geographical Access to Health: modelling population access to Greek public hospitals

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Last Updated: 15-02-2016 2:47

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The main aim of this paper is to look at the geographical access to public health facilities in order to provide some conclusions for potential inequalities among population groups or service areas within Greece. Existing methodology related to GIS is used to calculate zones of service to population communities. The 2001 Census population data and other geographical data from various sources were analysed. The geographical data include various administrative boundaries of local authorities as well as the locations of communities and public hospitals. Initially, we study the spatial distribution of the people in need for frequent access to hospitals (mainly elderly) as well as the location of the hospitals. We then try to calculate zones of close and far proximity to the hospitals in terms of straight distance. Finally, we identify population groups (defined by demographic and social characteristics) and areas of good and bad access to health. An immediate conclusion is that there are several mountainous and coastal areas that are more than 35km straight distance away from public hospitals. Many islands and remote areas are very disadvantaged in terms of geographical access to public hospitals both because of proximity and transport difficulties. To date, there is greater hospital cover for young people than for
older people. This may suggest an urban effect. In-migration of young people from remote areas to urban centres may have change the hospital coverage to different age groups favouring the younger population. It may also be that the health system is designed to ensure better health for younger rather than older people. However, the increasing number of older people due to ageing and out-migration of the young require special attention to health services and coverage. Thus, planning is needed for the correct location and scale of public hospitals.

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