Tuberculosis (TB)

Ethical issues in tuberculosis care and control


Woman taking her TB drug, Kathmandu, Nepal

Tuberculosis (TB) prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care raise important ethical issues that need to be adequately addressed. These concerns have been accentuated by the challenge of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).

In 2008 WHO established a Task Force on Addressing Ethical Issues in TB Care and Control Programmes, with the aim of developing a WHO guidance document. After a series of meetings and wide consultation with stakeholders, a WHO publication entitled “WHO guidance on ethics of tuberculosis prevention, care and control” was issued in December 2010 and translated into five official UN languages.

Since the publication of the guidance document, numerous dissemination and capacity-building activities have been carried out, and over 400 regional and national TB officers have been trained in ethical issues in TB, and the guidance document has been widely used to inform national policies and revising health-related laws. Several subsequent publications of the WHO Global TB Programme have incorporated a section on the relevant ethical issues.

Planned activities for 2015-2016

An update of the WHO guidance document is under development, and it will be released in 2016.