Tuberculosis (TB)

Ethical issues in the implementation of the End TB Strategy

Background

Woman taking her TB drug, Kathmandu, Nepal
WHO/SEARO/D. Orr

Prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of people with TB raise not only technical, but also important ethical issues that need to be adequately addressed. For instance, recent cases of involuntary detentions of people with TB in several parts of the world have brought up the question of how to balance individual rights and liberties against the protection of public health.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) End TB Strategy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which target ending the TB epidemic by 2030, call for due attention to equity, human rights and ethics. “Protecting human rights, ethics and equity” is one of the four key principles of WHO’s End TB Strategy. The SDGs agenda itself is inspired by a simple motto: “leave no one behind”.

The goal of the new guidance on TB Ethics entitled “Ethics Guidance for the implementation of the End TB Strategy” to help ensure that the implementation of the End TB Strategy is in line with sound ethical standards, by proposing practical answers to key ethical questions and enabling patients, families, civil society, health workers and policy makers to move forward and address current challenges. The document includes special sections on key populations, such as children, migrants, and prisoners, as well as on digital health technologies, screening, surveillance and research.