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      Population Distribution, Settlement Patterns and Accessibility across Africa in 2010


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          The spatial distribution of populations and settlements across a country and their interconnectivity and accessibility from urban areas are important for delivering healthcare, distributing resources and economic development. However, existing spatially explicit population data across Africa are generally based on outdated, low resolution input demographic data, and provide insufficient detail to quantify rural settlement patterns and, thus, accurately measure population concentration and accessibility. Here we outline approaches to developing a new high resolution population distribution dataset for Africa and analyse rural accessibility to population centers. Contemporary population count data were combined with detailed satellite-derived settlement extents to map population distributions across Africa at a finer spatial resolution than ever before. Substantial heterogeneity in settlement patterns, population concentration and spatial accessibility to major population centres is exhibited across the continent. In Africa, 90% of the population is concentrated in less than 21% of the land surface and the average per-person travel time to settlements of more than 50,000 inhabitants is around 3.5 hours, with Central and East Africa displaying the longest average travel times. The analyses highlight large inequities in access, the isolation of many rural populations and the challenges that exist between countries and regions in providing access to services. The datasets presented are freely available as part of the AfriPop project, providing an evidence base for guiding strategic decisions.

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          Most cited references45

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          Spatial accessibility of primary care: concepts, methods and challenges

          Primary care is recognized as the most important form of healthcare for maintaining population health because it is relatively inexpensive, can be more easily delivered than specialty and inpatient care, and if properly distributed it is most effective in preventing disease progression on a large scale. Recent advances in the field of health geography have greatly improved our understanding of the role played by geographic distribution of health services in population health maintenance. However, most of this knowledge has accrued for hospital and specialty services and services in rural areas. Much less is known about the effect of distance to and supply of primary care on primary care utilization, particularly in the U.S. For several reasons the shortage of information is particularly acute for urban areas, where the majority of people live. First, explicit definitions and conceptualizations of healthcare access have not been widely used to guide research. An additional barrier to progress has been an overwhelming concern about affordability of care, which has garnered the majority of attention and research resources. Also, the most popular measures of spatial accessibility to care – travel impedance to nearest provider and supply level within bordered areas – lose validity in congested urban areas. Better measures are needed. Fortunately, some advances are occurring on the methodological front. These can improve our knowledge of all types of healthcare geography in all settings, including primary care in urban areas. This paper explains basic concepts and measurements of access, provides some historical background, outlines the major questions concerning geographic accessibility of primary care, describes recent developments in GIS and spatial analysis, and presents examples of promising work.
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            Space-Time and Integral Measures of Individual Accessibility: A Comparative Analysis Using a Point-based Framework

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              Determining global population distribution: methods, applications and data.

              Evaluating the total numbers of people at risk from infectious disease in the world requires not just tabular population data, but data that are spatially explicit and global in extent at a moderate resolution. This review describes the basic methods for constructing estimates of global population distribution with attention to recent advances in improving both spatial and temporal resolution. To evaluate the optimal resolution for the study of disease, the native resolution of the data inputs as well as that of the resulting outputs are discussed. Assumptions used to produce different population data sets are also described, with their implications for the study of infectious disease. Lastly, the application of these population data sets in studies to assess disease distribution and health impacts is reviewed. The data described in this review are distributed in the accompanying DVD.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                21 February 2012
                : 7
                : 2
                : e31743
                [1 ]Spatial Ecology and Epidemiology Group, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
                [2 ]Biological Control and Spatial Ecology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium
                [3 ]Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique, Brussels, Belgium
                [4 ]Malaria Public Health and Epidemiology Group, Centre for Geographic Medicine, KEMRI - University of Oxford - Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Nairobi, Kenya
                [5 ]Centre for Tropical Medicine, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
                [6 ]Department of Geography, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, United States of America
                [7 ]Emerging Pathogens Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, United States of America
                [8 ]Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America
                University of Bristol, United Kingdom
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: CL MG RWS AJT. Performed the experiments: CL. Analyzed the data: CL AJT. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: CL RWS AMN AJT. Wrote the paper: CL AJT.

                Linard et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                : 14 October 2011
                : 12 January 2012
                Page count
                Pages: 8
                Research Article
                Earth Sciences
                Human Geography
                Science Policy
                Science Policy and Economics
                Social and Behavioral Sciences
                Human Geography



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