What is a medical desert?

Yasmina Kattou, edited by Laura Laplaud

General practitioners, gynecologists, ophthalmologists, pediatricians… The lack of health professionals throughout the territory is increasingly felt, alerted the UFC-Que Choisir association last week. Can we say that a territory where there is a lack of caregivers is a medical desert? The term is used a lot but what does it mean exactly? Europe 1 takes stock.

It is a term that we often hear, that of “medical desert”. In Nevers, in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, the town hall wants to create a direct airline to Dijon to attract doctors. Caregivers in the regional capital would then feel less distant from the big city and would have less reluctance to come to Nevers. A medical desert would therefore be a territory where access to care is complicated, but concretely, what is it?

No precise definition

There is no precise definition to determine what constitutes a medical desert. The expression “medical desert” corresponds to “nothing” as the Directorate of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics asserts in its 62-page report. This is an expression used in the media debate, but no reference threshold has been established by the authorities. Why ? Because there are too many data to take into account: the distance to be made to have access to a doctor, the too long waiting time, the presence or not of specialists in the territory.

An area where it is difficult to seek treatment from a health professional

It would therefore be a question of determining what level of effort is considered acceptable by the inhabitants of the different territories. But we can assume that if you have to travel more than 20 kilometers to find a doctor, if you have to wait a month to consult a general practitioner, that you will pay 80 euros, you probably live in this gray area called a medical desert. .

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