208N, Munk School of Global Affairs (1 Devonshire Place)
  • March 16, 2016 from 10:00am to 12:00pm

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

Discussant: Dr. Ananya Tina Banerjee (Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto)

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 are planned to unpack the experience of travel, including barriers to addressing health concerns (if existent). Because the social conditions that influence health behaviours are dynamic and directly affected by migration, I plan to compare experiences across socioeconomic groups (based on status in Canada and country of origin) and time since arrival. 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.