MSc student, Public Health and Health Systems

Kathy Luu


MSc, Public Health and Health Systems, 2018 - 2021

Graduate supervisor

Warren Dodd

My thesis

Social networks are known to provide financial resources to cover the costs of accessing health-care services and increase information sharing about health. My research examined the interaction of gender and social networks and how social networks can be a source of assistance for women experiencing poverty when accessing health-care services in the Philippines.

I collaborated with a Philippine-based non-governmental organization, International Care Ministries, to conduct interviews with female participants and health-care providers to understand their perspectives on health-care delivery. Results showed that affordability was a persistent barrier to health-care access among women experiencing poverty in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines. We also found that the strength of social networks impacted the availability of social and financial resources and facilitated health-care access. Furthermore, the strength of social networks varied across women of different age groups. Younger women reported smaller perceived networks and difficulties obtaining resources such as childcare and financial support to cover costs compared to older women. Overall, this study highlights the importance of social networks in facilitating health-care access among women experiencing poverty in this setting.

My time in the School of Public Health and Health Systems (SPHHS)

I am beyond grateful to the SPHHS staff, colleagues, and friends who granted me a safe space to learn, be challenged and encouraged me through this journey. SPHHS also provides many opportunities to get involved in its community through which I connected with like-minded individuals on the SPHHS Graduate Students Association (SPHHS GSA).

University of Waterloo