Public Health Measures to Control Tuberculosis in Low-Income Countries: Ethics and Human Rights Considerations
International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease 15 (2011): 19-24
6 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2012
Date Written: July 26, 2012
In low-income countries, tuberculosis (TB) control measures should be guided by ethical concerns and human rights obligations. Control programs should consider the principles of necessity, reasonableness and effectiveness of means, proportionality, distributive justice, and transparency. Certain measures - detention, infection control, and treatment to prevent transmission - raise particular concerns. While isolation is appropriate under certain circumstances, quarantine is never an acceptable control measure for TB, and any detention must be limited by necessity and conducted humanely. States have a duty to implement hospital infection control to the extent of their available resources and to provide treatment to health care workers (HCWs) infected on the job. HCWs, in turn, have an obligation to provide care unless conditions are unreasonably and unforeseeably unsafe. Finally, states have an obligation to provide adequate access to treatment, as a means of preventing transmission, as broadly as possible and in a non-discriminatory fashion. Along with treatment, states should provide support to increase treatment adherence and retention with respect for patient privacy and autonomy. Compulsory treatment is almost never acceptable. Governments should take care to respect human rights and ethical obligations as they execute TB control programs.
Keywords: ethics, tuberculosis, TB, public health, low-income countries, LICs
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