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Spatial accessibility of primary health care in China: A case study in Sichuan Province

Xiuli Wang, Huazhen Yang, Zhanqi Duan and Jay Pan ()

Social Science & Medicine, 2018, vol. 209, issue C, 14-24

Abstract: Access to primary health care is considered a fundamental right and an important facilitator of overall population health. Township health centers (THCs) and Community health centers (CHCs) serve as central hubs of China's primary health care system and have been emphasized during recent health care reforms. Accessibility of these hubs is poorly understood and a better understanding of the current situation is essential for proper decision making. This study assesses spatial access to health care provided by primary health care institutions (THCs/CHCs) in Sichuan Province as a microcosm in China. The Nearest-Neighbor method, Enhanced Two-Step Floating Catchment Area (E2SFCA) method, and Gini Coefficient are utilized to represent travel impedance, spatial accessibility, and disparity of primary health care resources (hospital beds, doctors, and health professionals). Accessibilities and Gini Coefficients are correlated with social development indexes (GDP, ethnicity, etc.) to identify influencing factors. Spatial access to primary health care is better in southeastern Sichuan compared to northwestern Sichuan in terms of shorter travel time, higher spatial accessibility, and lower inequity. Social development indexes all showed significant correlation with county averaged spatial accessibilities/Gini Coefficients, with population density ranking top. The disparity of access to primary health care is also apparent between ethnic minority and non-minority regions. To improve spatial access to primary health care and narrow the inequity, more township health centers staffed by qualified health professionals are recommended for northwestern Sichuan. Improved road networks will also help. Among areas with insufficient primary health care, the specific counties where demographics are dominated by older people and children due to widespread rural-urban migration of the workforce, and by ethnic minorities, should be especially emphasized in future planning.

Keywords: Township health centers (THCs); Community health centers (CHCs); Enhanced two-step floating catchment area (E2SFCA) method; Time cost; Inequity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.05.023

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