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 In commemoration of an annual World TB Day of March 24, World Health Organization (WHO) issued ethics guidance to protect rights of TB patients.

Themed “Unite efforts to leave no one behind” the annual commemoration is one through which WHO aims to help ensure that countries implementing the End TB Strategy adhere to sound ethical standards to protect the rights of all those affected. 

The new guidelines launched serve to raise awareness of TB as the world’s top infectious disease killer claiming 5 000 lives each day according to the guidelines which reveal that the heaviest burden is carried by communities which already face socio-economic challenges such as migrants, refugees, prisoners, ethnic minorities, miners and others working and living in risk-prone settings, and marginalised women, children and older people. 

Lesotho has however not organised any formal commemoration besides the ongoing sensitisations by the National TB and Leprosy Programme (NTLP) which features educative mobilisation of the masses as well as inter-ministerial departments.

The Director-TB and Leprosy in the Disease Control Unit, Dr Llang Maama said efforts are on the ground to support the national strategies of TB control and that they aim to carry out a TB prevalence survey and clinical trials of short-term regimen for Drug Resistant (DR) TB patients in Lesotho since the goal is to reduce mortality rate to less than five percent.

She said the ongoing sensitisations aims to train the target on the current TB scourge because they have a role to play in controlling the disease per the need to upscale TB education in Lesotho not only during the World TB Day build-up but on a continuous basis to ensure the public are aware of the disease and the role they have to play.

On the other hand WHO's Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan says TB strikes some world's poorest people hardest hence the Organisation's determination to overcome the stigma, discrimination and other barriers that prevent so many of the people from obtaining the services they so badly need.

She said Poverty, malnutrition, poor housing and sanitation compounded by other risk factors such as HIV, tobacco, alcohol use and diabetes can put people at heightened risk of TB and make it harder for them to access care as more than a third of people with TB go undiagnosed or unreported, while some receive no care at all and others access care of questionable quality. 

The new WHO ethics guidance meanwhile addresses contentious issues such as the isolation of contagious patients, the rights of TB patients in prison, discriminatory policies against migrants affected by TB among others. It emphasises five key ethical obligations for governments, health workers, care providers, non-governmental organisations, researchers and other stakeholders to provide patients with the social support they need to fulfil their responsibilities, refrain from isolating TB patients before exhausting all options to enable treatment adherence and only under very specific conditions and enable key populations to access same standard of care offered to other citizens.


Source: LENA 24/03/2017



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