COPC-based Integrated District Health System: Special Collection - Original Research

The use and value of maps in Community-Oriented Primary Care: Does process matter?

Nina M. Honiball, Tessa S. Marcus
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 12, No 1 | a2099 | DOI: | © 2020 Nina M. Honiball, Tessa S. Marcus | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 March 2019 | Published: 05 February 2020

About the author(s)

Nina M. Honiball, School of the Arts, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Tessa S. Marcus, Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

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Background: Maps are important tools in healthcare delivery. In Community-Oriented Primary Care (COPC), they are expected to be used to plan services and resources for defined geographical areas, delineate team practice areas, allocate healthcare workers to households and support service delivery and performance management.

Aim: This is a study of the use and value of maps and mapmaking in the delivery of healthcare services through Ward-Based Outreach Teams (WBOTs).

Setting: This study was conducted between 2014 and 2016 in Mamelodi (South Africa), an urban settlement selected to begin the City of Tshwane’s WBOT implementation programme in 2013.

Methods: This study is based on three qualitative participatory mapmaking projects with WBOT healthcare professionals and workers. Data generated through mapmaking, focused group discussions, individual semi-structured interviews, reflective writing and feedback workshops were analysed thematically.

Results: Through mapmaking and discussions about the maps, healthcare providers took ownership of the maps they were creating or viewing, added their own information onto the maps, voiced issues about their practice, generated new knowledge and shared ideas and solutions for challenges. These processes expanded the use and value of maps beyond assisting participants to gain insights into the context, people and organisations of their places of work.

Conclusion: Maps become creative learning tools that can be used in emergent ways to solve healthcare service and other problems when they are actively generated and engaged through facilitated discussion and reflection. This allows WBOTs to see maps as dynamic canvasses that they can use to improve service delivery.


Maps; Mapmaking; Community-Oriented Primary Care; Ward-Based Outreach Teams; Healthcare Delivery


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