Tackling stigma – an unchecked social determinant of tuberculosis

Dr. Amrita Daftary
Assistant Professor, School of Global Health, York University

Tuberculosis is a leading infectious disease killer, accounting for 1.5-2 million deaths each year. Although anyone can become infected with TB, at its core it remains a social disease. TB is more common among people who face social and economic inequities, including those living or working in lower income countries, poor and overcrowded conditions, and people living with HIV. The absence of a significant redution in TB incidence over the past decade reflects our failure to tackle its root social causes.

Dr. Amrita Daftary, at the School of Global Health and Dahdaleh Institute of Global Health Research at York University, Toronto, has devoted the past fifteen years to studying and addressing the drivers of TB health care, particularly TB stigma and its impact on treatment adherence in people with drug-resistant disease and HIV co-morbidity. Her research is largely situated in South Africa, where she draws on patient, provider and community perspectives to help develop person-centred approaches to TB and TB-HIV care. In 2021, Dr. Daftary has launched Social Science & Health Innovation For Tuberculosis (SSHIFTB), a global centre-without-borders to connect social science scholars, advocates and learners from around the world and elevate the social science gaze on TB.

“I could not have embarked on this journey without the support of CIHR during my doctoral and postdoctoral research. There is tremendous scope for Canadian researchers to contribute to the global TB elimination effort, and it will be critical to continue to support inter-disciplinary work – that addresses social barriers alongside clinical complexities – towards this end.”

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