Samanta Krishnapillai: Equal access to healthcare

By Cassandra Cervi

Samanta's hometown: Markham, Ontario

Samanta Krishnapillai’s ideal superpower is the ability to perfectly understand and communicate with all people.


Sitting on the wrinkled paper at the doctor’s office, the question runs through many Canadians’ minds: “Will I get the help I need?”

Samanta Krishnapillai is hoping that, through her research, she will be able to ensure that the answer to that question is always “yes”. Samanta is contributing to research, under the supervision of Dr. Nadine Wathen, for EQUIP Primary Health Care, a project with a complex, multi-component intervention that aims to mitigate the effects of structural inequities for marginalized populations, and create the policy environments needed to support such programming. Her research will be on the implementation of the EQUIP project at the London Intercommunity Health Centre. To her, health equity is about “addressing structural factors that prevent people from accessing the healthcare they deserve, like their race, gender, or where they live.”

“As a woman of colour, I have a unique perspective on this,” Samanta says.

She recalls times when her Sri Lankan grandparents were hospitalized. Though they can “communicate well in their own language, they can’t say exactly what they need in English,” she says.

This would mean that one of their children would have to remain by their bedside to act as translators, which could result with some of the pertinent healthcare information getting lost in translation.

"I want to help people be more critical in their thinking, so they can be more aware of the choices they are making and as a result hopefully become healthier."
“When you’re sick, in a foreign place, with food you’re not used to, it can get scary,” she adds.

Through her family’s experiences, she was inspired to use her background in Health Sciences to help change how people interact with healthcare. She hopes to empower people to take control of their healthcare and advocate for themselves more regularly. She believes that knowledge of the system and its shortcomings is a first step toward that end.

“I want to help people be more critical in their thinking, so they can be more aware of the choices they are making and as a result hopefully become healthier,” she says.

The Master of Health Information Science program has been the perfect fit for this goal. Samanta says that she most values the “diverse perspectives and backgrounds” that she can interact with in the program. She says that engaging with her colleagues’ differing methods of problem-solving has been the best way to deepen her learning and challenge herself.

Fun Fact

Food that reminds Samanta of home: curry.

Samanta appreciates that the program allowed her to discover her research interests, as she had not been exposed to research in her undergraduate degree.

“It’s hard to know what you’re doing next and what research is even like when you are finishing up your undergraduate studies,” she says. “This program makes it less daunting because you can figure out your research interest and supervisor during the first term.”

Samanta is also a Western alumnus and served as the University Students’ Council Vice President Internal during her undergraduate degree. Her advice to undergraduate students at Western is to “get involved in positions that make you uncomfortable, because this is your time to make mistakes and learn.”


Profiles in the Meet Our Students section are written by students in the Master of Media in Journalism & Communication program, who are enrolled in MMJC 9604 - Professional Writing.