Travel time to cataract surgical services in Kenya, Malawi and Rwanda: demonstrating a standardised indicator of physical access to cataract surgery

Ian McCormick, John M Nesemann, Jinfeng Zhao, Shaffi Mdala, Gatera Fiston Kitema, Nyawira Mwangi, Michael Gichangi, Kevin Tang, Matthew J Burton, Jacqueline Ramke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Travel time can be used to assess health services accessibility by reflecting the proximity of services to the people they serve. We aimed to demonstrate an indicator of physical access to cataract surgery and identify subnational locations where people were more at risk of not accessing cataract surgery.

METHODS: We used an open-access inventory of public health facilities plus key informants in Kenya, Malawi and Rwanda to compile a geocoded inventory of cataract facilities. For each country, gridded estimates of the population aged ≥ 50 years and a travel-time friction surface were combined and a least-cost-path algorithm applied to estimate the shortest travel time between each grid and the nearest cataract facility. We categorised continuous travel time by 1-, 2- and 3 h thresholds and calculated the proportion of the population in each category.

RESULTS: At the national level, the proportion of the population aged ≥ 50 years within 2 h travel time to permanent cataract surgical services was 97.2% in Rwanda (n = 10 facilities), 93.5% in Kenya (n = 74 facilities) and 92.0% in Malawi (n = 6 facilities); this reduced to 77.5%, 84.1% and 52.4% within 1 h, respectively. The least densely populated subnational regions had the poorest access to cataract facilities in Malawi (0.0%) and Kenya (1.9%).

CONCLUSION: We demonstrated an indicator of access that reflects the distribution of the population at risk of age-related cataract and identifies regions that could benefit from more accessible services. This indicator provides additional demand-side context for eye health planning and supports WHO's goal of advancing integrated people-centred eye care.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalEye
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Oct 2023

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