Vulnerability and access map



There are many different health-related products that can be generated during an emergency response, from initial casualty numbers following a cyclone, to doctor and nurse caseloads during an epidemic, to type or status of medical infrastructure. Invariably health information is linked to many of the other vulnerabilities and clusters, and informs a wide variety of decisions made by those responding to an emergency.

Strategic or operational?


Basemap, baseline or situational?

Baseline and situational.

When might it be produced?

This will depend on the type of disaster, but for epidemics and emergencies where there are known to be health issues then as early as possible. For epidemics, it is important to maintain figures and update any product frequently, as potential changes and transmission routes might be detected early and the necessary action taken.

During the early stages of a response when emergency medical teams are responding, the positioning of these teams is carried out based on their capacity and the needs of the medical facilities in the affected area or country.

Where there is widespread damage, typically after a natural disaster, the status of medical facilities should be mapped as soon as information is available.

Intended audience

All humanitarian actors involved directly in health, or those supporting health needs such as agencies involved in nutrition or WASH.

Influence on humanitarian decisions

By mapping the spatial patterns of reported health cases, hotspots and transmission routes may be identified, understood and acted upon. For example in 1854, cholera cases were mapped by John Snow following an outbreak in the Soho area of London. He was able to identify clusters of cases and was then able to identify a nearby water pump as the possible source. This sort of analysis continues today and helps health workers take action to curtail the outbreak as quickly as possible. Epidemics have a strong temporal aspect to them, and may also be affected by weather conditions.

Where there are a high number of deaths there may be a need for burial management.

  • It is important to get the best available data in as much spatial detail as possible. Mapped with transport networks, potential transmission routes may be identified.
  • Depending on the audience (public or private) of the map, health data may need to be made anonymous or aggregated to a suitable level to preserve human dignity and stigmatisation. This is particularly important when dealing with individuals, families and villages where, depending on what other detail is shown on the map, it may be possible to identify specific locations.
  • Health facilities - hospitals, health clinics
  • Case numbers
  • Affected population

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