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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

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  • 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 lung health world-wide.

    To share scientific research of immediate concern as rapidly as possible, The Union is fast-tracking the publication of certain articles from the IJTLD and publishing them on The Union website, prior to their publication in the Journal. Read fast-track articles.

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

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