Spatial accessibility to basic public health services in South Sudan
Macharia PM., Ouma PO., Gogo EG., Snow RW., Noor AM.
At independence in 2011, South Sudan’s health sector was almost non-existent. The first national health strategic plan aimed to achieve an integrated health facility network that would mean that 70% of the population were within 5 km of a health service provider. Publically available data on functioning and closed health facilities, population distribution, road networks, land use and elevation were used to compute the fraction of the population within 1 hour walking distance of the nearest public health facility offering curative services. This metric was summarised for each of the 78 counties in South Sudan and compared with simpler metrics of the proportion of the population within 5 km of a health facility. In 2016, it is estimated that there were 1747 public health facilities, out of which 294 were non-functional in part due to the on-going civil conflict. Access to a service provider was poor with only 25.7% of the population living within one-hour walking time to a facility and 28.6% of the population within 5 km. These metrics, when applied sub-nationally, identified the same high priority, most vulnerable counties. Simple metrics based upon population distribution and location of facilities might be as valuable as more complex models of health access, where attribute data on travel routes are imperfect or incomplete and sparse. Disparities exist in South Sudan among counties and those with the poorest health access should be targeted for priority expansion of clinical services.