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Free Content Ethical issues in tuberculosis screening and the use of new drugs for prisoners

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SETTING: Prisons are known to have extremely high tuberculosis (TB) and multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB prevalence and poor treatment outcomes.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the screening and M/XDR-TB treatment with new TB drugs in prisons from the perspective of international ethical and legal requirements.

DESIGN: WHO recommendations on TB screening in prisons and M/XDR-TB treatment as well as the international human rights law on prisoners were analysed.

RESULTS: Prisoners have a human right to access at least the same level of TB care as in their communities. Screening for TB in prisons, which may run contrary to a given individual's choice to be tested, may be justified by the positive obligation to prevent other prisoners from contracting a possibly deadly disease. Introduction of new TB drugs in prisons is necessary, ethically sound and should start in parallel with introduction in a civilian sector in strict compliance with the WHO recommendations.

CONCLUSION: Access to screening for TB, as well as effective treatment according to WHO recommendations, must be ensured by countries on the basis of international human rights conventions.
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Keywords: human right; mass screening; multidrug-resistant; prisons

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University Center of Legal Medicine of Geneva, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland 2: World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland 3: Xazar Legal Service, Baku 4: Ministry of Justice, Main Medical Department, Baku, Azerbaijan, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Tartu Ulikool, Tartu, Estonia

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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