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Health service utilization

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Use of health services by an emergency-affected population will differ substantially from that of a stable population. For example, health service utilization is often 0.5 - 1.0 new consultations per person per year in stable populations. In emergency-affected populations, this often rises to an average of 4.0 new consultations per person per year. If utilization is substantially lower than this, health services may not be geographically, financially, or culturally accessible.

Health service utilization can be calculated by counting the number of new consultations in all health facilities in the population, dividing by the total population, and multiplying by a correction factor to calculate the annual number. For example, if there were 11,000 new consultations in a newly displaced population in the first month, the utilization rate would be:

In this population, those in charge of clinical health services may wish to further investigate the accessibility of services.

Utilization is more often measured than coverage because it is usually easier to measure. However, coverage is often poor in emergencies and should be measured if possible. Surveys can often provide such an opportunity.