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Why every word counts: towards patient- and people-centered tuberculosis care

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Tuberculosis (TB) remains a major public health concern worldwide. To combat the global epidemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the End TB Strategy in 2016. This strategy advocates patient-centered care. The WHO considers ‘patients' as ‘people' with interests and needs beyond their illness. TB care models centered around people aim to connect affected persons to health services and give support throughout treatment. Nevertheless, studies have shown that patients continue to experience negative attitudes from providers. The disempowering language used to refer to people with TB often place limits on the care that they receive. Common terminologies applied to patients who interrupt treatment perpetuate the ‘blame game'. It is a moral obligation of providers to give care free from prejudice and discrimination, as articulated in the Patient's Charter for Tuberculosis Care. Researchers too have a duty to address underlying system barriers to relieve the unfair burden placed on patients. Lessons learned from the compassionate care provided to people living with HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune-deficiency syndrome) offer opportunities to address treatment adherence challenges. People-centered and patient-centered TB programs are necessary to end the epidemic. It is essential that providers and researchers find creative solutions for engaging patients throughout the care continuum and address health system factors.
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Keywords: TB; language; patient blame; patient centeredness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Global Health Department, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA 2: Philippines Country Office, World Health Organization, Manila, the Philippines 3: Departamento de Medicina Preventiva Jurisdicción de Servicios de Salud de Mexicali, Mexico

Publication date: May 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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