International Women’s Day: Fathima Wakeel Presents at Women in Data Science GM Multiregional Conference
Wakeel opened the “Data Science for Social Good” session at 1 p.m. with her lecture: “Identifying the health disparities in the population during the COVID-19 pandemic using epidemiological approaches to maternal and child health. ”
Her talk focused on how maternal and child health theory and methods can influence multidisciplinary data science practices to improve people’s health throughout life and promote health equity in all population groups.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected disproportionately high-risk populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, low-income people, the elderly, immunocompromised people, and people with chronic physical and mental illnesses,” said Wakeel. “While the services focus on responding to the immediate needs of communities – and rightly so – we have the opportunity to use data to study the long-term and multidimensional impact of the pandemic on vulnerable populations and use that data for improvement to leverage health outcomes. “
Approaches proposed by Wakeel included: investing in longitudinal research; Study and link multiple determinants of health; Application of a system thinking approach; Validation of measures among vulnerable groups and focus on optimizing health and resilience.
“It’s especially important to shift our focus as a population health researcher from risk to protective factors and resilience in communities,” says Wakeel. “Rather than just minimizing risk, we need to invest in promoting optimal and holistic health pathways, taking into account the relationships between individual, interpersonal, community and systemic factors that affect health.”
Wakeel has 20 years of academic and scientific training in maternal and child health. She is one of the first researchers to conceptualize and operationalize the construct of personal capital and examine its relationships to stress and adverse obstetric outcomes.
“My long-term research goal is to design and measure the personal capital that women can draw on to reduce or manage stress and achieve healthy perinatal outcomes,” says Wakeel. “When we learn what these resources are, how they can differ between different cultural, racial / ethnic and socio-economic groups of women, and how they develop over the course of life, we can develop programs and strategies to help build them personal capital among vulnerable groups of women and ultimately promoting health equity at the population level. “