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Free Content Ethical issues surrounding childhood tuberculosis

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Each year, at least one million children become ill with tuberculosis (TB) and more than 253 000 died of TB in 2016. The ethical issues surrounding childhood TB remain underexplored, and established or proposed management strategies are scarce. In this paper, we identify ethical challenges that are raised by childhood TB. Some of them are familiar from TB in other populations but arise with increased severity in children. We discuss interconnected and mutually reinforcing difficulties clustered around the topics of susceptibility, diagnosis, reporting, service provision, treatment, psychological and social support, and research and development (R&D) neglect. We formulate suggestions on how to address these ethical issues. For developing sound research agendas and policies based on the WHO End TB Strategy, it is essential that diagnosis and reporting improve. There is a duty to care for and provide available interventions to children with TB even if they are not a major source of transmission, and therefore no major impact on public health is expected. Treatment should be accompanied by counselling, health education, psychological and material support to TB-affected children and their families. Children need to be included equitably and more systematically into the TB research agenda.
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Keywords: ethics; harm; human rights; neglect

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, Edgecliffe, The Scores, St Andrews, UK 2: Global Tuberculosis Institute, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey, USA 3: The Indus Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan

Publication date: May 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IJTLD) is for clinical research and epidemiological studies on lung health, including articles on TB, TB-HIV and respiratory diseases such as COVID-19, asthma, COPD, child lung health and the hazards of tobacco and air pollution. Individuals and institutes can subscribe to the IJTLD online or in print – simply email us at [email protected] for details.

    The IJTLD is dedicated to understanding lung disease and to the dissemination of knowledge leading to better lung health. To allow us to share scientific research as rapidly as possible, the IJTLD is fast-tracking the publication of certain articles as preprints prior to their publication. Read fast-track articles.

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