Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
In a Leprosy Elimination Programme, a Geographic Information System (GIS) system can help monitor the extent of MDT coverage at regional, district or even sub-district level. It can also provide a graphical analysis of epidemiological indicators over time, the spatial distribution and severity of the disease, identify pockets of high endemicity and indicate where there is a need to target extra resources. Computerized mapping systems such as GIS provide an excellent means of analyzing epidemiological data, revealing trends, dependencies and inter-relationships that would otherwise remain hidden in data shown only in a tabular format. GIS can therefore be seen as a valuable management tool in the elimination programme, strengthening national, regional and sub-regional capacities in surveillance and monitoring.
Data analysis and mapping
GIS databases store graphical information such as country, region, district and sub-district administrative boundaries, and the location of cities, towns, and villages. These geographical features can be used to map the epidemiological data contained within the standard databases. This process provides an excellent means of analysing epidemiological data, revealing trends, dependencies and inter-relationships that would otherwise remain hidden in data shown only in tabular format. WHO has prepared baseline maps of all endemic countries, including most of the administrative boundaries, eg regions, districts, and in some cases, sub-districts. The names of these administrative areas are an integral part of the map and can be displayed as required. In addition, the geographic location of all major villages, together with their names, are fully mapped. These map files can be made available with the standard databases, for those NPMs who wish to develop a GIS system at the national level. In those cases where this is not requested, WHO is prepared to do the GIS mapping itself, using the data provided by NPMs in the standard databases.