Service Availability Mapping (SAM)
Overview of Methods
The SAM and PSAM questionnaires were applied using Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs); Global Positioning System (GPS) units were used to obtain the geographical coordinates of health care facilities. District teams were provided with the hardware, software, and training required to assure ongoing data collection and integration into existing supervisory and monitoring practices.
After field work the data were transferred from the PDA to a computer; WHO's HealthMapper software was used to produce maps and summary results for immediate feedback, analysis, and decision-making.
SAM and PSAM were implemented in 5 phases: planning and stakeholder meetings, data collection training, field work, data analysis and HealthMapper training, and reporting and dissemination.
The planning and stakeholder phase allowed for the bringing together of interested partners, the creation of a SAM working group or steering committee, and the initial planning and questionnaire adaptation.
This phase was followed by the first training on data collection. Here field staff were trained on the content of the questionnaires, PDA and GPS use. This training included some field practice, allowing team members to become comfortable with using these technologies in the field. Training was no less than 5 days.
Field work was carried out by national teams for a period of 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the geographical scope of work and the number of field staff available. Supervision was provided by members of the working group or steering committee, or other designated colleagues.
Once data was collected it was transferred from the PDAs to a computer. The second training then focused on basic data analysis using Excel and on using HealthMapper to present results. This training was usually 5 days long and limited to 15 participants.
Once the team had their data and was comfortable with using Excel and HealthMapper they were encouraged to finalize a report and plan for dissemination of results at national and district, or equivalent, level. Decision makers attended this session and were provided with a report on the process as well as the survey's results. Discussions at this meeting included plans for subsequent rounds and the process for integration of SAM into existing supervisory or monitoring visits at the district or equivalent level.