From paper maps to digital maps: Enhancing routine immunisation microplanning in Northern Nigeria

Leanne Dougherty, Masduq Abdulkarim, Fiyidi Mikailu, Usman Tijani, Kazeem Owolabi, Kate Gilroy, Ahmed Naiya, Adamu Abdullahi, Hadiza Bodinga, Folake Olayinka, Imelda Moise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Geographical information systems (GIS) can be effective decision-support tools. In this paper, we detail a GIS approach implemented by the Bauchi and Sokoto state primary healthcare development agencies in Nigeria to generate and convert routine immunisation (RI) paper maps to digital maps for microplanning. The process involved three stages: primary and secondary data collection and reconciliation, geospatial data processing and analysis, and production and validation of maps. The data collection and reconciliation stage identified a number of challenges with secondary data sources, including the need to standardise and reconcile health facility and settlement names. The study team was unable to apply population estimates generated from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to RI planning because operational boundaries for polio activities are defined differently from RI activities. Application of open-source GIS software enabled the combination of multiple datasets and analysis of geospatial data to calculate catchment areas for primary health centres (PHCs) and assign vaccination strategies to communities. The activity resulted in the development of PHC catchment area digital maps, and captured next steps and lessons learnt for RI microplanning in the two states. While the digital maps provided input into the microplanning process, more work is needed to build capacity, standardise processes and ensure the quality of data used to generate the maps. RI service providers and communities must be engaged in the process to validate, understand the data, the contextual factors that influence decisions about which vaccination strategies RI microplans include and how resources are allocated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere001606
JournalBMJ Global Health
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • GIS
  • Nigeria
  • immunization
  • mapping
  • microplanning
  • sub-saharan Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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