Reducing the Impact of Imported Infectious Diseases in Ontario

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Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Wednesday, March 16, 201610:00AM - 12:00PM208N, North House, Munk School of Global Affairs
1 Devonshire Place
M5S 3K7
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CPHS Seminar Series


With more than 200,000 immigrants and 60 million passengers flowing through Canada’s major airports annually, as well as recent outbreaks of Ebola, measles and influenza, the relationship between global mobility and health is of primary importance to Canada. Immigrants who travel to visit friends and relatives (VFR travelers) comprise a growing and important risk group as they travel to riskier destinations and are unlikely to access pre-travel health care (e.g. immunization, chemoprophylaxis). Consequently, VFR travelers experience a disproportionate burden of preventable travel-related morbidity compared to leisure and business travelers. Immigrants are known to face migration-related stigma and sociocultural and economic barriers to preventive health care; however, how these barriers manifest and may be overcome has yet to be explored in VFR travelers. In response, my doctoral research aims to explore the sociocultural context of travel and health in South Asian VFR travelers in Peel region, where travel-related disease rates are 2-4 times higher than national averages owing to high numbers of VFR travelers to lndia and Pakistan. Qualitative group interviews were conducted to unpack the experience of travel, including barriers to addressing health concerns (if existent). Identifying underlying differences in opportunity, ability, and motivation of VFR travelers to engage in desired behaviours is vital to determine how to intervene and redress this health inequity.

Rachel Savage is a PhD candidate in Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (DLSPH). She holds a Master of Science in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Prior to joining the DLSPH, Rachel worked as an epidemiologist in regional and provincial public health organizations in Ontario, focused on infectious disease surveillance. Her research is focused on understanding the risk and burden of travel-related infections and is supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarships doctoral research award.


Olga Kesarchuk


Rachel Savage
Lupina Senior Doctoral Fellow; Doctoral Candidate at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Ananya Tina Banerjee
Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

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