en
Scientific article
Open access
English

The winding road to health: A systematic scoping review on the effect of geographical accessibility to health care on infectious diseases in low- and middle-income countries

Published inPLOS ONE, vol. 16, no. 1, e0244921
Publication date2021
Abstract

Background Geographical accessibility to healthcare is an important component of infectious disease dynamics. Timely access to health facilities can prevent disease progression and enables disease notification through surveillance systems. The importance of accounting for physi- cal accessibility in response to infectious diseases is increasingly recognized. Yet, there is no comprehensive review of the literature available on infectious diseases in relation to geo- graphical accessibility to care. Therefore, we aimed at evaluating the current state of knowl- edge on the effect of geographical accessibility to health care on infectious diseases in low- and middle-income countries. Methods and findings A search strategy was developed and conducted on Web of Science and PubMed on 4 March 2019. New publications were checked until May 28, 2020. All publication dates were eligible. Data was charted into a tabular format and descriptive data analyses were carried out to identify geographical regions, infectious diseases, and measures of physical accessi- bility among other factors. Search queries in PubMed and Web of Science yielded 560 unique publications. After title and abstract screening 99 articles were read in full detail, from which 64 articles were selected, including 10 manually. Results of the included publica- tions could be broadly categorized into three groups: (1) decreased spatial accessibility to health care was associated with a higher infectious disease burden, (2) decreased accessi- bility was associated to lower disease reporting, minimizing true understanding of disease distribution, and (3) the occurrence of an infectious disease outbreak negatively impacted health care accessibility in affected regions. In the majority of studies, poor geographical accessibility to health care was associated with higher disease incidence, more severe health outcomes, higher mortality, and lower disease reporting. No difference was seen between countries or infectious diseases. Conclusions Currently, policy-makers and scientists rely on data collected through passive surveillance systems, introducing uncertainty on disease estimates for remote communities. Our results highlight the need for increasing integration of geographical accessibility measures in disease risk modelling, allowing more realistic disease estimates and enhancing our understanding of true disease burden. Additionally, disease risk estimates could be used in turn to optimize the allocation of health services in the prevention and detection of infectious diseases.

Keywords
  • Accessmod
  • LMIC
  • Accessibility
  • Health
  • Infectious disease
Citation (ISO format)
HIERINK, Fleur et al. The winding road to health: A systematic scoping review on the effect of geographical accessibility to health care on infectious diseases in low- and middle-income countries. In: PLOS ONE, 2021, vol. 16, n° 1, p. e0244921. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0244921
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Article (Published version)
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ISSN of the journal1932-6203
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Creation01/05/2021 11:06:00 AM
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