Use of Spatial Information in South Africa HIV Management

Use of Spatial Information in South Africa HIV Management -...

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Bio Med Central Page 1 of 8 (page number not for citation purposes) International Journal of Health Geographics Open Access Research The use of a spatial information system in the management of HIV/AIDS in South Africa Karishma Busgeeth* 1,2 and Ulrike Rivett 3 Address: 1 School of Architecture, Planning & Geomatics, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700, Cape Town, South Africa, 2 South African Cochrane Centre, Medical Research Council, PO Box 19070, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa and 3 Department of Civil Engineering, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700, Cape Town, South Africa Email: Karishma Busgeeth* - [email protected]; Ulrike Rivett - [email protected] * Corresponding author Abstract Background: South Africa is experiencing an HIV/AIDS pandemic of shattering dimensions. The availability and provision of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs could bring relief to the situation, but the treatment is unfortunately complex with each patient being assigned a different antiretroviral therapy varying in diet-medication regiment. The context of South Africa, its variety of urban and rural settings adds to the challenge of administering and monitoring the HIV+ person throughout the treatment, which will last for the rest of their lives. The lack of physical infrastructure, reliable statistics and adequate resources hinder the efficient management of HIV/AIDS. Results: The collection of reliable data will be a first step to assess the status of HIV/AIDS in communities. A number of hospitals have started this process using the conventional approach to collect information about their patients using a paper-based system. Since time is of essence in the fight against the pandemic, data exchange between various hospitals, municipalities and decision- making bodies is becoming more and more important. The logical response to such a need is a computerised system, which will collect and administer HIV/AIDS related information within the local context and allow a monitored access to the data from a number of stakeholders. Conclusions: The purpose of this study was to design and develop an HIV/AIDS database, which is embedded in a Spatial Information Management System. The pilot study area is the Gugulethu township in Cape Town where more than 27% of the 325 000 residents are HIV+. It is shown that the implementation of the HIV/AIDS database and the Spatial Information Management System can play a critical role in determining where and when to intervene, improving the quality of care for HIV+ patients, increasing accessibility of service and delivering a cost-effective mode of information. Background It is estimated that today 4.74 million people are HIV+ in South Africa and the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) projected that without appropriate treat- ment to prevent the development of AIDS, the number of AIDS deaths within the next decade would be more than double the number of deaths due to all other causes, resulting in 6 to 7 million cumulative AIDS deaths in South Africa in 2010 [1]. The pandemic entails both a medical and a logistical challenge. Leaving the medical
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