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Web-based public health geographic information systems for resources-constrained environment using scalable vector graphics technology: a proof of concept applied to the expanded program on immunization data

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Author(s): Kamadjeu Raoul | Tolentino Herman

Journal: International Journal of Health Geographics
ISSN 1476-072X

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 24;
Date: 2006;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are powerful communication tools for public health. However, using GIS requires considerable skill and, for this reason, is sometimes limited to experts. Web-based GIS has emerged as a solution to allow a wider audience to have access to geospatial information. Unfortunately the cost of implementing proprietary solutions may be a limiting factor in the adoption of a public health GIS in a resource-constrained environment. Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is used to define vector-based graphics for the internet using XML (eXtensible Markup Language); it is an open, platform-independent standard maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) since 2003. In this paper, we summarize our methodology and demonstrate the potential of this free and open standard to contribute to the dissemination of Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) information by providing interactive maps to a wider audience through the Internet. Results We used SVG to develop a database driven web-based GIS applied to EPI data from three countries of WHO AFRO (World Health Organization – African Region). The system generates interactive district-level country immunization coverage maps and graphs. The approach we describe can be expanded to cover other public health GIS demanding activities, including the design of disease atlases in a resources-constrained environment. Conclusion Our system contributes to accumulating evidence demonstrating the potential of SVG technology to develop web-based public health GIS in resources-constrained settings.

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