Meaghan Thumath

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

A global health nurse and policy maker, Meaghan is a Trudeau Scholar at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence Based Intervention (CEBI) researching the impact of drug policy and child welfare systems on maternal mortality.

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.

For over a decade Meaghan has provided technical assistance to international organizations such as WHO, UNDP, UNAIDS, the World Bank and the Global Fund to End AIDS, TB and Malaria supporting access to healthcare for sex workers, LGBTQ and people who use drugs in Central Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, West and Central Africa and the Middle East and North Africa. In Canada, she has served as the Chief of Staff (Senior MA) to the Minister of Mental Health and Addiction, as clinical coordinator of North America’s first supervision injection facility, Insite, and as a Street Nurse and Senior Practice Leader at the BC Centre for Disease Control.

Meaghan’s academic interests include health systems, gender equity and access to health care for marginalized populations. She is an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) School of Nursing and holds clinician scientist affiliations with the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity. She holds a Master of Science in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and is a registered nurse with advanced practice certification in sexual and reproductive health, HIV and addiction medicine.