Judge of High Court of Botswana Promotes IHR Clinic Work in Letter to Editor
People with tuberculosis (TB) experience infringements of their human rights on a daily basis. In far too many cases, they lack access to effective testing and treatment, face discrimination in employment and health care settings, and are unnecessarily detained and isolated against their will. Yet, even as TB has surpassed HIV as the top infectious disease killer in the world and the global threat from multidrug-resistant TB continues to grow, the ethical and legal issues around TB remain largely neglected in national TB programs and research agendas. New approaches are needed to address the social, economic, and structural factors driving the epidemic and drug resistance.
Commendably, this journal featured a special section on TB and the right to health in June 2016. As outlined in the editorial and a series of articles in the section, a human rights-based approach to TB establishes and protects the rights of people living with and vulnerable to TB, including the rights to life, health, non-discrimination, privacy, participation, information, liberty of movement, housing, food, water, and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress. This includes access to the most recent treatments and diagnostic tools. In addition, human rights law at the international and regional levels and national constitutions create corresponding legal obligations for governments and responsibilities for private actors, promoting accountability and access to remedies for rights violations.
In line with this rights-based framework, the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Plan to End TB 2016–2020 calls for a human rights- and gender-based approach to TB grounded in international, regional, and domestic law. The Global Plan acknowledges that TB programming will not be successful unless global and national programs ground their work in human rights and gender equity.
As part of the Global Plan’s implementation, the TB and Human Rights Consortium—whose members include the Stop TB Partnership, University of Chicago Law School International Human Rights Clinic, and KELIN (Kenya)—has launched an inclusive, consultative process to promote adoption of the Nairobi Strategy on TB and Human Rights. Led by people with TB, TB survivors, and other allies, the strategy aims to implement several streams of work to foster diverse, focused, and sustained advocacy efforts.