Understanding Needs and Barriers to Using Geospatial Tools for Public Health Policymaking in China
Lee, Chang Kil
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Despite growing popularity of using geographical information systems and geospatial tools in public health fields, these tools are only rarely implemented in health policy management in China. This study examines the barriers that could prevent policy-makers from applying such tools to actual managerial processes related to public health problems that could be assisted by such approaches, e.g. evidence-based policy-making. A questionnaire-based survey of 127 health-related experts and other stakeholders in China revealed that there is a consensus on the needs and demands for the use of geospatial tools, which shows that there is a more unified opinion on the matter than so far reported. Respondents pointed to lack of communication and collaboration among stakeholders as the most significant barrier to the implementation of geospatial tools. Comparison of survey results to those emanating from a similar study in Bangladesh revealed different priorities concerning the use of geospatial tools between the two countries. In addition, the follow- up in-depth interviews highlighted the political culture specific to China as a critical barrier to adopting new tools in policy development. Other barriers included concerns over the limited awareness of the availability of advanced geospatial tools. Taken together, these findings can facilitate a better understanding among policy-makers and practitioners of the challenges and opportunities for widespread adoption and implementation of a geospatial approach to public health policy-making in China.