Education for Health

LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year
: 2016  |  Volume : 29  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 61--62

Use of the geographic information system in health assessment: An Experience in Medical Undergraduate Teaching in India


T Muthukumar1, R Rajkamal1, Anil J Purty1, Zile Singh1, Joy Bazroy1, Srinivasa Moorthy2, R Ashwin3,  
1 Department of Community Medicine, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Puducherry, India
2 Department of Earth Sciences, Pondicherry University, Puducherry, India
3 Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Puducherry, India

Correspondence Address:
T Muthukumar
1/679, V. R. V. Nagar, P and T Nagar, Madurai - 625 017, Tamil Nadu
India




How to cite this article:
Muthukumar T, Rajkamal R, Purty AJ, Singh Z, Bazroy J, Moorthy S, Ashwin R. Use of the geographic information system in health assessment: An Experience in Medical Undergraduate Teaching in India.Educ Health 2016;29:61-62


How to cite this URL:
Muthukumar T, Rajkamal R, Purty AJ, Singh Z, Bazroy J, Moorthy S, Ashwin R. Use of the geographic information system in health assessment: An Experience in Medical Undergraduate Teaching in India. Educ Health [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Aug 12 ];29:61-62
Available from: http://www.educationforhealth.net/text.asp?2016/29/1/61/178922


Full Text

Dear Editor,

Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage and present all types of spatial or geographical data. GIS applications are tools that allow users to create interactive queries (user-created searches), analyze spatial information, edit data in maps and present the results of all these operations.[1],[2]

The Department of Community Medicine at The Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences has a unique clinical experiencefor 6th semester medical undergraduate students in which the entire class of students are posted in the department exclusively for a month (morning to evening). The students are given a research topic and a research protocol is developed, along with obtaining necessary permissions from the research and ethics committees of the institution. An initial orientation towards research and methodology is provided by the faculty.

For the Reorientation of Medical Education (ROME) posting conducted in the month of January 2014, we decided to incorporate use of GIS technology by the medical students. The Department of Geo Sciences at the university was approached to assist in this project. Selected students were given training regarding the software and method of marking the coordinates. The research topic was “Water Quality Assessment and Its Implications on Health”.

The study was conducted in the rural area of Chunampet, Kancheepuram district, which includes 10 villages. Two villages, Villipakkam and Puthirankottai, were randomly selected for the study. Drinking water was collected from the common water sources of both villages and sent for microbiological, physical and chemical analysis. Data were collected from the permanent residents of both the villages using a pre-tested questionnaire, which included questions on socio-demographics, availability of drinking water, quality of drinking water, methods of purification of water and family members with gastrointestinal symptoms. Written consent was obtained.

Water from common sources was collected using a sterile bottle for microbiological analysis and a one litre bottle for physical and chemical analysis. The location of the water sources were plotted in the respective village base maps, downloaded from Google Earth. The village maps were obtained from the Village Administrative Officer. The latitude and longitude of the common water sources in those villages were recorded with a compass. The location of these common water sources were plotted on the respective base maps with the help of Arc GIS software, with assistance from the Department of Earth Sciences at the university. Maps showing unsatisfactory water sources of the villages were marked using the Arc GIS software [Figure 1].{Figure 1}

There is a paucity of information with regard to utilization of GIS technology in medical undergraduate teaching. In this study, students were introduced to a new and innovative technique using GIS. The field of GIS is vast and all the applications of GIS were not utilized in the study due to limited resources and time constraints. Students experienced and learned a new method of interpreting results visually through new software. This technique should be further explored for use in future studies and educational programs.

References

1Clarke KC. Advances in geographic information systems. Comput Environ Urban Syst 1986;10:175-84.
2Maliene V, Grigonis V, Palevičius V, Griffiths S. Geographic information system: Old principles with new capabilities. Urban Des Int 2011;16:1-6.