'Ignoring the White Plague: TB Invisibility in The field of Social Policy and Development'

International Institute of Social Studies
Start date

Tuesday, 29 May 2018, 16:00

End date

Tuesday, 29 May 2018, 17:30

Aula A
International Institute of Social Studies
Ellen Mitchell

Development Research Seminar by MA PhD Ellen Mitchell Senior Epidemiologist at KNCV TB Foundation


Tuberculosis is the world’s leading killer of the poor and marginalized, yet has received scant attention in the field of development.
Although it is also the leading killer of people with HIV, it has remained a lower priority in political and social policies.  

Development experts’ TB blind spot has left them ill-equipped to fully understand or mitigate the health consequences of many policies and development projects including deep pit mining, urbanization, mass incarceration and criminalization, and intensified agriculture. The lack of expertise of development practitioners and the absence of a critical social and political research gaze has also allowed a variety of human rights and discriminatory practices to flourish in global TB programs.  Until recently TB has been a disease with few survivor advocacy groups, and stigma has undercut the power of affected communities to organize. “Disease Control” efforts have involved stigmatizing regimens and  biomedical silos. 

Together with an international group of human rights lawyers, anthropologists, economists, sociologists, epidemiologists, physicians, and survivors  I have worked on developing ways to visibilize and measure the impact of TB stigma and design interventions to reduce discrimination against those with TB.  The talk will describe why TB expertise is essential for the fields of pro-poor social policy and development, how new actors and approaches are starting to address historical exclusions and re-invent public health in ways that are more equitable, critical, and effective.
The talk will explore the potential uses of the concept of stigma syndemics, (ie the clustering of disparaged identities, behaviors, and comorbidities) for bridging biomedical and development discourses.

About the speaker

Ellen Mitchel is an expert in International health and development. For the past 10 years she has worked as a Senior Epidemiologist at KNCV TB Foundation, where she has led diverse global teams to build research strengths in stigma reduction, ethics and discrimination and contributed to global WHO guidelines on TB screening and HIV and key populations.
Her work combines skills and research interests from the fields of evaluation studies, epidemiology and social and behavioral sciences.
She has published on research ethics and meaningful community engagement.
Her work has an emphasis on indigenous communities, children, men and masculinities, people involved with the judicial system, and people with drug dependencies.