Access to Effective Diagnosis and Treatment for Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis: Deepening the Human Rights-Based Approach

Remmy Shawa*, Fons Coomans, H. Cox, Leslie London

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


The lack of access to effective diagnosis and treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) remains a persistent ethical, human rights and public health challenge globally. In addressing this challenge, arguments based on a Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) to health have most often been focused on the Right to Health. However, a key challenge in multidrug-resistant (MDR-) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR-) TB is the glaring absence of scientific research; ranging from basic science and drug discovery through to implementation science once new tools have been developed. Although the Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and its Applications (REBSP) is a little theorised human right, it has the potential to enrich our understanding and use of the Rights-Based Approach to health. In this chapter, we argue that States’ duties to respect, protect and fulfil the REBSP within and outside their borders is an important vehicle that can be drawn on to redress the lack of research into new drug development and appropriate use of existing drugs for DR-TB in high burden settings. We call for urgent attention to minimum core obligations for the REBSP and the need for a General Comment by a UN human rights monitoring body to provide for its interpretation. We also note that conceptualization of the REBSP has the potential to complement Right to Health claims intended to enhance access to treatment for DR-TB on a global scale.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthics and Drug Resistance: Collective Responsibility for Global Health
EditorsE. Jamzorik, M. Selgelid
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-27874-8
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-27873-1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2020

Publication series

SeriesPublic Health Ethics Analysis

Cite this