Health statistics and information systems

Service Availability Mapping (SAM)


Photo: Participants at a training workshop in Ghana
Participants at a training workshop in Ghana

Service Availability Mapping (SAM) was a tool, used from approximately 2004 to 2009, to collect and present basic information on health services: health infrastructure, human resources and services offered. Its main application was at the subnational or district level, where district health management teams can use the results of the SAM to monitor health services. SAM was made up of a survey methodology and remote field data collection devices.

As immediate need for information on basic infrastructure and service availability precipitated the application of an intermediate step - the SAM survey of districts. This consisted of a survey of all district health management teams. It included questions on health infrastructure, human resources, and availability of key services. For selected services such as ARV therapy, caesarean section or PMTCT, the specific name of the facility was asked. The outputs were maps and summary statistics of the situation in all districts in the country.

The SAM tool has been replaced by the Service Availability and Readiness Assessment tool (SARA), which builds upon previous approaches designed to assess health facility service delivery including the SAM tool.