Place and health infrastructure in the Gulf Cooperation Council: A systematic scoping review of GIS applications in health


The rising burden of non-communicable diseases is taxing health systems globally. Using data science and information systems is necessary to support public health practices. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are key to inform and help guide public health policies related to place (i.e. location or where one lives) and how it affects health. Despite the increasing use of GIS for public health globally, its applications to health in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states remains largely unknown. This systematic scoping review aimed to uncover how GIS has been used in the GCC states to understand “place” and “health”. A comprehensive search of the literature was performed in PubMed, Scopus, Science Citation Index Expanded, ScienceDirect, Embase, IEEE Xplore, and ACM Digital Library during June 2020. All journal articles involving the use of GIS for human health applications in the GCC states published in English in peerreviewed scientific journals were considered. After removing duplicates and applying eligibility criteria, qualitative content analysis was performed for 24 of 630 studies. GIS uses in the GCC states were categorized as health access and planning (n=9), health risk analysis (n=8), disease surveillance (n=6) and community health profiling (n=1). The majority of the uncovered evidence in this study focused on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The results of this study indicate a deficiency of published evidence regarding the use of GIS in support of public health in other GCC states. This stands to compromise planning and strategic decision making in health risk analysis, disease surveillance, community health profiling, health services provision and health interventions.



PlumX Metrics


Download data is not yet available.


Adegboye, Oyelola A., Ezra Gayawan, and Fahad Hanna. 2017. “Spatial Modelling of Contribution of Individual Level Risk Factors for Mortality from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus in the Arabian Peninsula.” PloS One 12 (7): e0181215. DOI:

Ahmadalipour, Ali, and Hamid Moradkhani. 2018. “Escalating Heat-Stress Mortality Risk Due to Global Warming in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).” Environment International 117: 215–25. DOI:

Al Makadma, AbdulKarim Said. 2017. “Adolescent Health and Health Care in the Arab Gulf Countries: Today’s Needs and Tomorrow’s Challenges.” International Journal of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 4 (1): 1–8. DOI:

Alahmad, Barrak, Ahmed F. Shakarchi, Haitham Khraishah, Mohammad Alseaidan, Janvier Gasana, Ali Al-Hemoud, Petros Koutrakis, and Mary A. Fox. 2020. “Extreme Temperatures and Mortality in Kuwait: Who Is Vulnerable?” Science of The Total Environment 732 (August): 139289. DOI:

Al-Ahmadi, Khalid, Sabah Alahmadi, and Ali Al-Zahrani. 2019. “Spatiotemporal Clustering of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) Incidence in Saudi Arabia, 2012-2019.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16 (14). DOI:

Al-Ahmadi, Khalid, and Ali Al-Zahrani. 2013a. “NO(2) and Cancer Incidence in Saudi Arabia.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 10 (11): 5844–62. DOI:

———. 2013b. “Spatial Autocorrelation of Cancer Incidence in Saudi Arabia.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 10 (12): 7207–28. DOI:

Al-Haifi, Ahmad R., Mohammad A. Al-Fayez, Buthaina I. Al-Athari, Fahhad A. Al-Ajmi, Ahmad R. Allafi, Hazzaa M. Al-Hazzaa, and Abdulrahman O. Musaiger. 2013. “Relative Contribution of Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviors, and Dietary Habits to the Prevalence of Obesity among Kuwaiti Adolescents.” Food and Nutrition Bulletin 34 (1): 6–13. DOI:

Alkhamis, Abdulwahab A. 2017. “Critical Analysis and Review of the Literature on Healthcare Privatization and Its Association with Access to Medical Care in Saudi Arabia.” Journal of Infection and Public Health 10 (3): 258–68. DOI:

Alkhamis, Abdulwahab, Amir Hassan, and Peter Cosgrove. 2014. “Financing Healthcare in Gulf Cooperation Council Countries: A Focus on Saudi Arabia.” The International Journal of Health Planning and Management 29 (1): e64–82. DOI:

Al-Maamary, Hilal M. S., Hussein A. Kazem, and Miqdam T. Chaichan. 2017. “Climate Change: The Game Changer in the Gulf Cooperation Council Region.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 76 (September): 555–76. DOI:

Al-Rubeaan, K.A., A.M. Youssef, S.N. Subhani, N.A. Ahmad, A.H. Al-Sharqawi, and H.M. Ibrahim. 2013. “A Web-Based Interactive Diabetes Registry for Health Care Management and Planning in Saudi Arabia.” Journal of Medical Internet Research 15 (9). DOI:

Alzahrani, Abdullah G., Mohammad A. Al Mazroa, Abdullah M. Alrabeah, Adel M. Ibrahim, Ali H. Mokdad, and Ziad A. Memish. 2013. “Geographical Distribution and Spatio-Temporal Patterns of Dengue Cases in Jeddah Governorate from 2006-2008.” Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 107 (1): 23–29. DOI:

Arksey, Hilary, and Lisa O’Malley. 2005. “Scoping Studies: Towards a Methodological Framework.” International Journal of Social Research Methodology 8 (1): 19–32. DOI:

Asbu, Eyob Zere, Maysoun Dimachkie Masri, and Amer Kaissi. 2017. “Health Status and Health Systems Financing in the MENA Region: Roadmap to Universal Health Coverage.” Global Health Research and Policy 2 (1): 25. DOI:

Aziz, M. M. 1990. “Spatial Patterns of Exogenous Mortality in Kuwait.” Geographical Review of Japan 63 (2): 188–97. DOI:

Benziger, Catherine P., Gregory A. Roth, and Andrew E. Moran. 2016. “The Global Burden of Disease Study and the Preventable Burden of NCD.” Global Heart 11 (4): 393–97. DOI:

Chen, Simiao, Michael Kuhn, Klaus Prettner, and David E. Bloom. 2018. “The Macroeconomic Burden of Noncommunicable Diseases in the United States: Estimates and Projections.” PLoS ONE 13 (11). DOI:

Coffee, Neil, Dorothy Turner, Robyn A. Clark, Kerena Eckert, David Coombe, Graeme Hugo, Deborah van Gaans, David Wilkinson, Simon Stewart, and Andrew A. Tonkin. 2012. “Measuring National Accessibility to Cardiac Services Using Geographic Information Systems.” Applied Geography 34 (May): 445–55. DOI:

Cozier, Yvette C. 2017. “Invited Commentary: The Enduring Role of ‘Place’ in Health-A Historic Perspective.” American Journal of Epidemiology 185 (11): 1203–5. DOI:

Cromley, Ellen K, and Sara L McLafferty. 2011. GIS and Public Health. New York, NY, USA: Guilford Press.

Daniel, Mark, Spencer Moore, and Yan Kestens. 2008. “Framing the Biosocial Pathways Underlying Associations between Place and Cardiometabolic Disease.” Health & Place 14 (2): 117–32. DOI:

Dietrich, Damien, Ralitza Dekova, Stephan Davy, Guillaume Fahrni, and Antoine Geissbühler. 2018. “Applications of Space Technologies to Global Health: Scoping Review.” Journal of Medical Internet Research 20 (6): e230. DOI:

Dummer, Trevor J.B. 2008. “Health Geography: Supporting Public Health Policy and Planning.” CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal 178 (9): 1177–80. DOI:

Fletcher-Lartey, Stephanie M., and Graziella Caprarelli. 2016. “Application of GIS Technology in Public Health: Successes and Challenges.” Parasitology 143 (4): 401–15. DOI:

Fradelos, Evangelos C., Ioanna V. Papathanasiou, Dimitra Mitsi, Konstantinos Tsaras, Christos F. Kleisiaris, and Lambrini Kourkouta. 2014. “Health Based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Their Applications.” Acta Informatica Medica: AIM: Journal of the Society for Medical Informatics of Bosnia & Herzegovina: Casopis Drustva Za Medicinsku Informatiku BiH 22 (6): 402–5. DOI:

Greer, W., A. L. Sandridge, M. Al-Menieir, and A. Al Rowais. 2005. “Geographical Distribution of Congenital Heart Defects in Saudi Arabia.” Annals of Saudi Medicine 25 (1): 63–69. DOI:

Jaber, Salahuddin M., Jwan H. Ibbini, Nawal S. Hijjawi, Nafn M. Amdar, Mohammed J. Huwail, and Khalid Al-Aboud. 2013. “Exploring Recent Spatial Patterns of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis and Their Associations with Climate in Some Countries of the Middle East Using Geographical Information Systems.” Geospatial Health 8 (1): 143–58. DOI:

Jamal, Arshad, Muhammad Tauhidur Rahman, Hassan M. Al-Ahmadi, and Umer Mansoor. 2019. “The Dilemma of Road Safety in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia: Consequences and Prevention Strategies.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17 (1). DOI:

Jia, P., X. Cheng, H. Xue, and Y. Wang. 2017. “Applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Data and Methods in Obesity-Related Research.” Obesity Reviews: An Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity 18 (4): 400–411. DOI:

Jokar Arsanjani, Jamal. 2017. “Remote Sensing, Crowd Sensing, and Geospatial Technologies for Public Health: An Editorial.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 14 (4). DOI:

Kapwata, Thandi, and Samuel Manda. 2018. “Geographic Assessment of Access to Health Care in Patients with Cardiovascular Disease in South Africa.” BMC Health Services Research 18 (1): 197. DOI:

Khoja, Tawfik, Waris Qidwai, Mohamed Sayed H Ahmed, Salman Rawaf, and Kashmira Nanji. 2013. “The Way Forward to Public Health in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries: A Need for Public Health Systems and Law.” Middle East Journal of Family Medicine 11 (5): 23–27. DOI:

Khoja, Tawfiq, Salman Rawaf, Waris Qidwai, David Rawaf, Kashmira Nanji, and Aisha Hamad. 2017. “Health Care in Gulf Cooperation Council Countries: A Review of Challenges and Opportunities.” Cureus 9 (8): e1586. DOI:

Khormi, Hassan M., and Lalit Kumar. 2011. “Modeling Dengue Fever Risk Based on Socioeconomic Parameters, Nationality and Age Groups: GIS and Remote Sensing Based Case Study.” Science of the Total Environment 409 (22): 4713–19. DOI:

———. 2012. “Assessing the Risk for Dengue Fever Based on Socioeconomic and Environmental Variables in a Geographical Information System Environment.” Geospatial Health 6 (2): 171–76. DOI:

Khormi, Hassan M., Lalit Kumar, and Ramze A. Elzahrany. 2011. “Modeling Spatio-Temporal Risk Changes in the Incidence of Dengue Fever in Saudi Arabia: A Geographical Information System Case Study.” Geospatial Health 6 (1): 77–84. DOI:

Khoury, Muin J., Michael F. Iademarco, and William T. Riley. 2016. “Precision Public Health for the Era of Precision Medicine.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 50 (3): 398–401. DOI:

Klautzer, Lisa, Joachim Becker, and Soeren Mattke. 2014. “The Curse of Wealth - Middle Eastern Countries Need to Address the Rapidly Rising Burden of Diabetes.” International Journal of Health Policy and Management 2 (3): 109–14. DOI:

Mabry, Ruth, Mohammad Javad Koohsari, Fiona Bull, and Neville Owen. 2016. “A Systematic Review of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Research in the Oil-Producing Countries of the Arabian Peninsula.” BMC Public Health 16 (1): 1003. DOI:

Makanga, Prestige T., Nadine Schuurman, Peter von Dadelszen, and Tabassum Firoz. 2016. “A Scoping Review of Geographic Information Systems in Maternal Health.” International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics: The Official Organ of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics 134 (1): 13–17. DOI:

Mansour, S. 2016. “Spatial Analysis of Public Health Facilities in Riyadh Governorate, Saudi Arabia: A GIS-Based Study to Assess Geographic Variations of Service Provision and Accessibility.” Geo-Spatial Information Science 19 (1): 26–38. DOI:

Massoudi, B. L., and K. G. Chester. 2017. “Public Health, Population Health, and Epidemiology Informatics: Recent Research and Trends in the United States.” Yearbook of Medical Informatics 26 (1): 241–47. DOI:

Mattke, Soeren, Lauren E. Hunter, Madeline Magnuson, and Aziza Arifkhanova. 2015. “Population Health Management and the Second Golden Age of Arab Medicine.” Rand Health Quarterly 5 (1).

Moher, David, Alessandro Liberati, Jennifer Tetzlaff, Douglas G. Altman, and PRISMA Group. 2009. “Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: The PRISMA Statement.” Annals of Internal Medicine 151 (4): 264–69, W64.

Mughal, Faraz, Carolyn A. Chew-Graham, and Ahmad Saad. 2018. “‘Hajj: What It Means for General Practice.’” BJGP Open 2 (2): bjgpopen18X101493. DOI:

Murad, Abdulkader. 2004. “Creating a GIS Application for Local Health Care Planning in Saudi Arabia.” International Journal of Environmental Health Research 14 (3): 185–99. DOI:

———. 2007. “Creating a GIS Application for Health Services at Jeddah City.” Computers in Biology and Medicine 37 (6): 879–89. DOI:

———. 2008a. “Creating a GIS-Based Epidemiological Application for Jeddah City.” International Journal of Healthcare Technology and Management 9 (5–6): 540–51. DOI:

———. 2008b. “Defining Health Catchment Areas in Jeddah City, Saudi Arabia: An Example Demonstrating the Utility of Geographical Information Systems.” Geospatial Health 2 (2): 151–60. DOI:

———. 2011. “Creating a Geographical Information Systems-Based Spatial Profile for Exploring Health Services Supply and Demand.” American Journal of Applied Sciences 8 (6): 644–51. DOI:

———. 2012. “Benchmarking the Location of Health Centers at Jeddah City: A GIS Approach.” Benchmarking 19 (1): 93–108. DOI:

———. 2014. “Using Geographical Information Systems for Defining the Accessibility to Health Care Facilities in Jeddah City, Saudi Arabia.” Geospatial Health 8 (3): S661–69.

———. 2018. “Using GIS for Determining Variations in Health Access in Jeddah City, Saudi Arabia.” International Journal of Geo-Information 7 (7): 254. DOI:

Musa, George J., Po-Huang Chiang, Tyler Sylk, Rachel Bavley, William Keating, Bereketab Lakew, Hui-Chen Tsou, and Christina W. Hoven. 2013. “Use of GIS Mapping as a Public Health Tool—From Cholera to Cancer.” Health Services Insights 6 (November): 111–16. DOI:

Muttalif, Abdul Razak, Jessica V. Presa, Hammam Haridy, Amgad Gamil, Lidia C. Serra, and Alejandro Cané. 2019. “Incidence and Prevention of Invasive Meningococcal Disease in Global Mass Gathering Events.” Infectious Diseases and Therapy 8 (4): 569–79. DOI:

Ng, S. W., S. Zaghloul, H. I. Ali, G. Harrison, and B. M. Popkin. 2011. “The Prevalence and Trends of Overweight, Obesity and Nutrition-Related Non-Communicable Diseases in the Arabian Gulf States.” Obesity Reviews: An Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity 12 (1): 1–13. DOI:

Nykiforuk, Candace I. J., and Laura M. Flaman. 2011. “Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Health Promotion and Public Health: A Review.” Health Promotion Practice 12 (1): 63–73. DOI:

Ouzzani, Mourad, Hossam Hammady, Zbys Fedorowicz, and Ahmed Elmagarmid. 2016. “Rayyan-a Web and Mobile App for Systematic Reviews.” Systematic Reviews 5 (1): 210. DOI:

Salmon-Rousseau, A., E. Piednoir, V. Cattoir, and A. de La Blanchardière. 2016. “Hajj-Associated Infections.” Medecine Et Maladies Infectieuses 46 (7): 346–54. DOI:

Sepúlveda, Martín-J. 2014. “Public Health Informatics and the Public Health Workforce in an Era of Change.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 47 (5 Suppl 3): S386-387. DOI:

Shaw, Nicola, and Suzanne McGuire. 2017. “Understanding the Use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in Health Informatics Research: A Review.” Journal of Innovation in Health Informatics 24 (2): 940. DOI:

Silva, J. Padmaka. 2016. “Mapping Unhealthy Behavior Among Economically Active Men Using GIS in Suburban and Rural Areas of Sri Lanka.” Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health 28 (1 Suppl): 10S-16S. DOI:

Subhani, S.N. 2009. “Use of Geographical Information System within Web-Based Saudi National Diabetes Registry.” International Journal of Geoinformatics 5 (1): 27–32.

Thiébaut, R., and F. Thiessard. 2017. “Public Health and Epidemiology Informatics.” Yearbook of Medical Informatics 26 (1): 248–51. DOI:

Wass, Mark N, Larry Ray, and Martin Michaelis. 2019. “Understanding of Researcher Behavior Is Required to Improve Data Reliability.” GigaScience 8 (5). DOI:

Yagoub, M.M. 2011. “Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Application for Health: Case of al Ain (UAE).” International Journal of Geoinformatics 7 (1): 21–28.

Original Articles
Geographic Information Systems, Gulf Cooperation Council, health, place, public health, healthcare, Kuwait, Oman, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar.
  • Abstract views: 1051

  • PDF: 261
How to Cite
Alhuwail, D., AlSharrah, S., Coffee, N. T., Al-Refaei, F. H., & Daniel, M. (2020). Place and health infrastructure in the Gulf Cooperation Council: A systematic scoping review of GIS applications in health. Geospatial Health, 15(2).