A.O. Dogru1, N.N. Ulugtekin1, S. Alkoy2

1 - Istanbul Technical University, Cartography Division, Istanbul, Turkey

2 - District Health Directorate, Statistics and Communicable Disease Control Unit, Istanbul, Turkey


Epidemiology is the scientific study of the spread and control of diseases as a function of time and location. It examines the incidence or prevalence, distribution and determinants of an infection, disease or other health-related event in a population. In this concept, epidemiology can be thought of in terms of the questions: who, where, when, what, and why. That are; who has the infection/disease, where are they located geographically and in relation to each other, when is the infection/disease occurring, what is the cause, and why did it occur. Since these questions are mostly spatial based, it should be better to evaluate them in terms of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Epidemiologists have traditionally used maps while analyzing the relationships between location, surrounding environment, and the disease. GIS technology allows them to examine these factors on maps easily and in an efficient way by the help of the spatial analysis executed based on permanent databases formed in this manner. Thus, it supports public health programs from small to large scales, varying from management of the departmental functions that run the day-to-day operations of a health organization to epidemiological mapping performed by the public health officials.

The use of GIS for epidemiological studies is recent development in Turkey. Although there are several GIS applications for public services, epidemiological applications are not executed except for Universities because Turkish Epidemiologist generally studies by conventional methods. This study aims to introduce the epidemiological GIS applications executed in Turkey in Istanbul Technical University. The paper is structured in four main parts, which are general introduction, case studies of Istanbul, results / benefits for Turkey and finally discussion and conclusions. According to this structure, a general introduction of epidemiology, GIS and their integration are briefly explained and existing position of Turkey in terms of epidemiological works are introduced in the first part of the paper. In the second part of the paper, three basic interdisciplinary GIS applications are explained. These studies are all about the general procedure of using GIS for tracking of measles distribution, vaccination services conducted by public health services and introducing the epidemiological aspects of air pollution in Istanbul. In the following parts of the study, the general results and benefits for Turkey are discussed based on the presented studies. Also, importance of GIS and cartographic products of this technology for other disciplines are taken in to further consideration in this paper.