Zahra Fazal, from Morogoro, Tanzania, is pursuing a master’s degree in epidemiology and clinical research at Stanford School of Medicine as a Knight Hennessey scholar. She graduated from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada with a bachelor’s degree with distinction in Global health and nutrition as a Karen McKellin International Leader of Tomorrow scholar. Zahra plans to apply her graduate degree towards researching health inequities amongst under-served populations and advocating for data-driven policy change within Sub-Saharan Africa. During her undergraduate degree, Zahra founded a club for first-generation and low-income (FGLI) students, launched a podcast and hosted Canada’s first conference for FGLI students bringing together universities and education ministers across Canada. Inspired by her advocacy, UBC established a scholarship for FGLI students. Zahra was also a research assistant on a patient-partner project at Arthritis Research Canada investigating COVID-19 outcomes in patients with immunosuppression within Canada. Zahra has received the UBC Dean Blythe Eagles Medal, UBC International Community Achievement Award and is a 2022 Rhodes East Africa finalist.

Honors & Awards

  • Knight Hennessey fellowship, Stanford University (2022-2024)
  • Global Health SEEDS grant, Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health (2023-2024)
  • Graduate Student Fellowship, Stanford Center for African Studies (2023)
  • Graduate Student Mini-grant, Stanford Markaz Center (2024)

Education & Certifications

  • Bachelor of Science, University of British Columbia, Global health & nutrition (2021)

Work Experience

  • Research Assitant, Arthritis Research Canada (9/2020 - 8/2022)



All Publications

  • Risk of venous thromboembolism in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a meta-analysis of observational studies. BMC rheumatology Fazal, Z. A., Avina-Galindo, A. M., Marozoff, S., Kwan, J., Lu, N., Avina-Zubieta, J. A. 2024; 8 (1): 5


    Thrombotic events, such as venous thromboembolism (VTE) are a major health complication linked to rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We performed a meta-analysis to evaluate the risk of VTE, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), in adults with RA compared to the general population.MEDLINE and EMBASE databases were searched from inception to April 2022 to identify publications meeting the following criteria: (1) prospective and retrospective original data from cohort or case-control studies; (2) pre-specified RA definition; (3) clearly defined VTE outcomes; (4) reported risk estimate and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs); (5) at least sex- and age-matched to comparison group; and (6) English language. Of 372 studies screened, 14 were included (602,760 RA patients, 123,076 VTE events) and their quality was assessed by an adaptation of the STROBE quality scoring scale.The pooled risk ratios of VTE, DVT and PE in patients with RA were 1.57 (95% CI 1.41-1.76), 1.58 (95% CI 1.26-1.97) and 1.57 (95% CI 1.30-1.88), respectively. The I2 value of 92%, 94% and 92% for VTE, DVT and PE analyses, suggesting considerable heterogeneity. There were no significant differences in risk estimates among the five subgroup analyses: quality score (P = 0.35, I2 = 0%); sex (P = 0.31, I2 = 1.7%); study year (P = 0.81, I2 = 0%); population source (P = 0.35, I2 = 0%); study design (P = 0.62, I2 = 0%).Results show that patients with RA are at a higher risk of VTE, DVT and PE compared to the general population.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s41927-024-00376-9

    View details for PubMedID 38308337

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10836002

  • COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Africa: a scoping review GLOBAL HEALTH RESEARCH AND POLICY Ackah, B. B., Woo, M., Stallwood, L., Fazal, Z. A., Okpani, A., Ukah, U., Adu, P. A. 2022; 7 (1): 21


    Vaccination against the novel coronavirus is one of the most effective strategies for combating the global Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. However, vaccine hesitancy has emerged as a major obstacle in several regions of the world, including Africa. The objective of this rapid review was to summarize the literature on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Africa.We searched Scopus, Web of Science, African Index Medicus, and OVID Medline for studies published from January 1, 2020, to March 8, 2022, examining acceptance or hesitancy towards the COVID-19 vaccine in Africa. Study characteristics and reasons for COVID-19 vaccine acceptance were extracted from the included articles.A total of 71 articles met the eligibility criteria and were included in the review. Majority (n = 25, 35%) of the studies were conducted in Ethiopia. Studies conducted in Botswana, Cameroun, Cote D'Ivoire, DR Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe were also included in the review. The vaccine acceptance rate ranged from 6.9 to 97.9%. The major reasons for vaccine hesitancy were concerns with vaccine safety and side effects, lack of trust for pharmaceutical industries and misinformation or conflicting information from the media. Factors associated with positive attitudes towards the vaccine included being male, having a higher level of education, and fear of contracting the virus.Our review demonstrated the contextualized and multifaceted reasons inhibiting or encouraging vaccine uptake in African countries. This evidence is key to operationalizing interventions based on facts as opposed to assumptions. Our paper provided important considerations for addressing the challenge of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and blunting the impact of the pandemic in Africa.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s41256-022-00255-1

    View details for Web of Science ID 000826918300001

    View details for PubMedID 35850783

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9294808

  • Immunosuppression and COVID-19 infection in British Columbia: Protocol for a linkage study of population-based administrative and self-reported survey data PLOS ONE Michelle Avina-Galindo, A., Fazal, Z. A., Marozoff, S., Kwan, J., Lu, N., Hoens, A. M., Kopec, J., Lacaille, D., Xie, H., Loree, J. M., Antonio Avina-Zubieta, J., SCOUT Team 2021; 16 (11): e0259601


    Cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to spread around the world even one year after the declaration of a global pandemic. Those with weakened immune systems, due to immunosuppressive medications or disease, may be at higher risk of COVID-19. This includes individuals with autoimmune diseases, cancer, transplants, and dialysis patients. Assessing the risk and outcomes of COVID-19 in this population has been challenging. While administrative databases provide data with minimal selection and recall bias, clinical and behavioral data is lacking. To address this, we are collecting self-reported survey data from a randomly selected subsample with and without COVID-19, which will be linked to administrative health data, to better quantify the risk of COVID-19 infection associated with immunosuppression.Using administrative and laboratory data from British Columbia (BC), Canada, we established a population-based case-control study of all individuals who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Each case was matched to 40 randomly selected individuals from two control groups: individuals who tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 (i.e., negative controls) and untested individuals from the general population (i.e., untested controls). We will contact 1000 individuals from each group to complete a survey co-designed with patient partners. A conditional logistic regression model will adjust for potential confounders and effect modifiers. We will examine the odds of COVID-19 infection according to immunosuppressive medication or disease type. To adjust for relevant confounders and effect modifiers not available in administrative data, the survey will include questions on behavioural variables that influence probability of being tested, acquiring COVID-19, and experiencing severe outcomes.This study has received approval from the University of British Columbia Clinical Research Ethics Board [H20-01914]. Findings will be disseminated through scientific conferences, open access peer-reviewed journals, COVID-19 research repositories and dissemination channels used by our patient partners.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0259601

    View details for Web of Science ID 000755334700015

    View details for PubMedID 34797824

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8604283