Kernel density estimation as a technique for assessing availability of health services in Nicaragua



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 that 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 facility ratios or population to staff ratios using Kernel density estimation (KDE) within a geographic information system. 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.


Kernel density estimate Accessibility Nicaragua GIS 



We thank Margel Beteta, Carlos Rojas and Luis Blandón for their assistance on the use of the Nicaragua census population data. This study was conducted with funds provided by MEASURE Evaluation which is a cooperative agreement (GPO-A-00-03-00003-00) between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States government.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carolina Population CenterUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Maternal and Child Health and Carolina Population CenterUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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