GISCorps volunteer assisted in geolocating child-mother clinics in Chiapas, Mexico
In late 2010, Juan Del Toro, a GIS professional with Instituto de Información Territorial del Estado de Jalisco, was selected for a project in Chiapas, Mexico. The project was brought to us by Maternova, a US based organization who is implementing a web-based portal focused on empowering frontline health workers and saving lives around the time of childbirth. Juan assisted Maternova in geo locating hospitals and clinics in the region.
The power and convenience of internet-based maps is a given in the lives of many: trying to find a 24 hour pharmacy? Simply ‘Google it’, and the information is instantly provided. Maternova and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) ask: “What if patients and providers in developing countries could ask this sort of information about local clinics, greatly reducing the deadly delays that make maternal death a stark reality?” Questions like: Where is the closest hospital with a blood bank? Where is the closest hospital with the capacity to perform C-sections?”
The team hopes that by mapping the existing 43 clinics in Chiapas, and superimposing various level of data on top of the map (maternal deaths, C-sections performed), the information provided by the maps will help to reduce maternal deaths in Chiapas and inform decisions made by providers, philanthropists, and government agencies about where patients receive appropriate care and where additional resources are needed to make maternity a safe state of wellness for all women in Chiapas.
Juan helped the team find the exact latitude and longitude of clinics provided by the Committee for Safe Motherhood in Mexico. An expert in mapping, Juan also served as a cultural advisor for the Maternova/ARHP team: he explained that there is not a strong “mapping culture” in Mexico. During his efforts widespread landslides in southern Mexico also damaged the communications infrastructure in Chiapas and commanded the full attention of the clinics there. Juan was able to find 1/4 of the clinics’ exact lat/long. This data is included on the maps displayed on this page and was also provided to maternal health policy makers in Mexico.
In addition to the map designed for the Safe Motherhood Committee, Maternova and ARHP, will launch a map on Maternova.net that is freely accessible to all, with the intention of populating a crowdsourced map of health facilities in southern Mexico. Their hope and plan is to have frontline health workers- the people who know the on-the-ground resources the best- populate this map with the names, locations, services offered and other important information about health facilities in Chiapas that provide maternal and newborn care. Maternova and ARHP are grateful to the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for support on this pilot mobile health (mHealth) initiative.
Juan went above and beyond in terms of creative ways to find the clinics. He sent us regular updates, with multi-media materials as support.