ISLAMABAD : World Health Organization (WHO) on Fridaylaunched new tuberculosis (TB) ethics guidance to help ensure that countriesimplementing the ‘End TB Strategy’ adhere to sound ethical standards to protect the rights of all those affected.
According to WHO, TB, the world’s top infectious disease killer,claims 5,000 lives each day. The heaviest burden is carried by communities which already face socio-economic challenges like migrants, refugees, prisoners, ethnic minorities, miners and others working and living in risk-prone settings, and marginalized women, children and older people.
“TB strikes some of the world’s poorest people hardest,” said DrMargaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “WHO is determined to overcome the stigma,discrimination, and other barriers that prevent so many of these people from obtaining the services they so badly need.”
Poverty, malnutrition, poor housing and sanitation, compounded byother risk factors such as HIV, tobacco, alcohol use and diabetes, can put people at heightened risk of TB and make it harder for them to access care.
More than a third (4.3 million) of people with TB go undiagnosed orunreported, some receive no care at all and others access care of questionable quality.
The new WHO ethics guidance addresses contentious issues such as, theisolation of contagious patients, the rights of TB patients in prison, discriminatory policies against migrants affected by TB, among others.
It emphasizes five key ethical obligations for governments, healthworkers, care providers, nongovernmental organizations, researchers and other stakeholders to provide patients with the social support they need to fulfil their responsibilities.
“Only when evidence-based, effective interventions are informed by asound ethical framework, and respect for human rights, will we be successful in reaching our ambitious goals of ending the TB epidemic and achieving universal health coverage. The SDG aspiration of leaving no one behind is centred on this,” said Dr Mario Raviglione, Director, WHO Global TB Programme.
“The guidance we have released today aims to identify the ethicalpredicaments faced in TB care delivery, and highlights key actions that can be taken to address them,” he added.
World TB Day is an opportunity to mobilize political and socialcommitment for further progress in efforts to end TB. This year, World TB Day signals new momentum at the highest levels with the announcement of the first ever Global Ministerial Conference on Ending TB, which will be held in Moscow in November 2017.-APP