Calculating Accessibility Ratios in Nicaragua Using Kernel Density Estimation

John Spencer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Typically, accessibility ratios have been calculated through a simple mathematical division of the number of people in an area by the number of facilities (or staff) in the area. This approach does not take into account the service area of the facility or its proximity to population centers, and is often performed using aggregate numbers for an administrative region. This paper describes an approach to calculating accessibility ratios such as population to physician ratios or population to staff ratios using kernel density estimation (KDE) within a geographic information system. By definition, KDE disperses discrete phenomena across continuous space and is unrestrained by administrative boundaries. Therefore it provides a better representation of the spread of people and services across the landscape. Two types of accessibility ratios are calculated on a national level for Nicaragua: population per facility and population per staff; the merits of using KDE over traditional approaches are discussed.

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