Upholding ethical values and human rights at the frontier of TB research


Published May 2020.

Until recently, human rights have played a minor role in the fight against tuberculosis (TB), even less so in TB research. This is changing, however. The WHO’s End TB Strategy and Ethics Guidance stress respect for human rights and ethical principles in every area of TB care, including research. The desired reductions in TB incidence and mortality are impossible without new tools and strategies to fight the disease. Yet, little suggests that the current state of TB research-including funding levels, evidence being produced, and community involvement-will alleviate concerns related to the availability, accessibility, and acceptability of TB diagnostics, drugs, and prevention in the near future. In this article, we consider these ethics concerns in relation to the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and the right to health. We also reflect on community involvement in research and offer recommendations in the spirit of the rights to health and science, such as involving affected communities in all aspects of research planning, execution, and dissemination. Finally, we argue that states have a responsibility under international law for the continued realization of the right to health. This realization rests, in part, on the realization of the right to science.


Stillo, J., Frick, M., & Cong, Y. (2020). Upholding ethical values and human rights at the frontier of TB research. The international journal of tuberculosis and lung disease : the official journal of the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease24(5), 48–56. https://doi.org/10.5588/ijtld.17.0897
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