Meaghan Thumath

Study program:
Department of Social Policy and Intervention
Current affiliation:
University of Oxford

Meaghan Thumath (social policy and intervention, University of Oxford) is a public health and outreach nurse seeking to understand the effects of child removal on marginalized women in Canada.

Meaghan Thumath is a registered nurse and public health leader in HIV and drug policy. A former coordinator at Insite and leader of BC's provincial HIV strategy she has over 10 years of clinical and health policy experience. Her research interests include drug addiction, health equity and gender.

Doctoral research

What are the effects of child removal on marginalized women?

In Canada an estimated 65,000 children are currently in the care of child welfare authorities at a population rate of between 1.1 to 3% of children, one of the highest rates in the world (Gilbert et al., 2012). In contrast to Europe, where family centered approaches to child welfare dominate, the US and Canada favour a child safety approach based on statutory child protection investigations and risk reduction. Consequently, women who have been marginalized by poverty, race, substance use and mental illness experience a disproportionate burden of monitoring and apprehension by child welfare authorities in North America (Blackstock, 2004). However, little is known on the health effects of child removal and child custody loss on women’s health.

Research Aims: 1. To conduct a systematic review to assess the potential effects of child apprehension on marginalized women 2. To assess the prevalence of child apprehension among a prospective longitudinal cohort of marginalized women in Canada 3.To assess morbidity (HIV, HCV, mental health) among marginalized women by child apprehension and explore whether there is an independent effect of exposure to child apprehension on increased morbidity 4. To explore the relationship between the level of exposure to child removal by state welfare systems and maternal mortality on marginalized women in Canada.

Study Design and Methods: A mixed methods policy evaluation including systematic review, a quantitative social epidemiology analysis of a prospective longitudinal cohort with linked population health data and a qualitative analysis of pre-existing interviews with cohort participants.

Meaghan Thumath, MSc, BSN, RN, is a public health leader in communicable disease control and reproductive health. Her research interests include gender, health equity, Indigenous health, global health metrics, and HIV implementation science. A registered nurse by training, she has over 10 years of HIV experience in direct clinical care, teaching, and research. Meaghan completed a bachelor of science in nursing at the University of British Columbia and a masters of science in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is currently enrolled in a DPhil on social policy and intervention at the University of Oxford.

Meaghan also maintains an active clinical practice as an outreach nurse certified in advanced reproductive health and continues to provide HIV technical assistance to international organizations such as UNAIDS, the World Bank, and UNDP. As a senior leader with Vancouver Coastal Health, she was a clinical leader at Insite, North America's first supervised injection facility, and led the implementation of a treatment-as-prevention pilot that doubled the region's access to HIV testing and treatment. Meaghan has won multiple awards for her work in HIV across Canada, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, including a Premier's Award for Innovation and an Excellence in Nursing Education Award from the College of Registered Nurses.

Meaghan is a passionate communicator and community leader active in civic, provincial and national politics. As a strong advocate for the human rights of vulnerable communities, she maintains a passionate commitment to improving health equity and social justice for people affected and infected with HIV in Canada and abroad.