Density of Family Planning Service Availability: Kernel Density Estimation of Access to Contraceptives in Malawi

Nathan Heard, Harvard School of Public Health

Malawi faces immense reproductive health challenges, many of which could be ameliorated with an increase in contraceptive use. The main objective of this paper is to see if analysis of spatially referenced facility and health data can identify a gradient of access to specific services and determine whether and how the gradient affects the utilization of contraceptive services in Malawi. The methods employed in this paper include one of the first examples of kernel density estimation as a means of identifying the presence and health significance of access to health services. Results show that Malawian women who lived in areas of medium and low density family planning availability were significantly less likely to use modern contraception compared to women who live in high density areas. These results suggest a novel means of identifying disparities in access to family planning services in Malawi and perhaps more broadly in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Presented in Session 139: New Methods for Understanding the Distribution of Health and Family Planning Services in Africa