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Title: Spatial accessibility and social inclusion: The impact of Portugal's last health reform
Authors: Lopes, Hélder da Silva
Ribeiro, Vítor
Remoaldo, Paula
Keywords: Acessibilidade geográfica aos Serviços de Saúde
Issue Date: 2019
Citation: Lopes, H., Ribeiro, V. & Remoaldo, P. (2019). Spatial accessibility and social inclusion: The impact of Portugal's last health reform. GeoHealth, 3(11), 356-368. doi
Abstract: Health policies seek to promote access to health care and should provide appropriate geographical accessibility to each demographical functional group. The dispersal demand of health‐careservices and the provision for such services atfixed locations contribute to the growth of inequality intheir access. Therefore, the optimal distribution of health facilities over the space/area can lead toaccessibility improvements and to the mitigation of the social exclusion of the groups considered mostvulnerable. Requiring for such, the use of planning practices joined with accessibility measures. However,the capacities of Geographic Information Systems in determining and evaluating spatial accessibility inhealth system planning have not yet been fully exploited. This paper focuses on health‐care services planningbased on accessibility measures grounded on the network analysis. The case study hinges on mainlandPortugal. Different scenarios were developed to measure and compare impact on the population'saccessibility. It distinguishes itself from other studies of accessibility measures by integrating network data ina spatial accessibility measure: the enhanced two‐stepfloating catchment area. The convenient location forhealth‐care facilities can increase the accessibility standards of the population and consequently reducethe economic and social costs incurred. Recently, the Portuguese government implemented a reform thataimed to improve, namely, the access and equity in meeting with the most urgent patients. It envisaged,in terms of equity, the allocation of 89 emergency network points that ensured more than 90% of thepopulation be within 30 min from any one point in the network. Consequently, several emergency serviceswere closed, namely, in rural areas. This reform highlighted the need to improve the quality of the emergencycare, accessibility to each care facility, and equity in their access. Hence, accessibility measures becomean efficient decision‐making tool, despite its absence in effective practice planning. According to anapplication of this type of measure, it was possible to verify which levels of accessibility were decreased,including the most disadvantaged people, with a larger time of dislocation of 12 min between 2001 and 2011.
Peer reviewed: yes
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