Editorial Simplified: Anchored in Human Rights | GS – II

Relevance : GS Paper II (Indian Economy)


Theme of the article

Instead of surveillance technologies, help TB patients by providing rights-based interventions.


Introduction

Decades of global neglect have resulted in tuberculosis (TB) becoming the leading cause of adult deaths in most of the global south — it kills nearly two million people a year. This is shocking given that TB is curable and preventable.


Signs of change

  • A plan in India is to implant microchips in people in order to track them and ensure they complete TB treatment.
  • There are also technological tweaks to the Directly Observed Treatment, short course (DOTS) strategy, which requires patients to report every day to a health authority, who watches them swallow their tablets.
  • Now, governments use, or plan to soon use, a strategy of video, tablets, phones and drones to carry the old DOTS strategy into the technology era.

The human rights approach

  • We can only beat TB using an approach anchored in human rights.
  • Such an approach focusses on creating health systems that foster trust, partnership and dignity.
  • This approach regards people with TB not as subjects to be controlled but as people to be partnered with.
  • It assumes that people with TB have dignity, intelligence and empathy that motivate them to act in the best interests of themselves and their communities when empowered to do so.

Way forward

  • International institutions, donors and countries need to focus and collaborate on the urgent production and distribution of affordable generics of bedaquiline and delamanid.
  • Companies should be pressurised to drop their exorbitant prices so that vast majority of people are no longer excluded from accessing the drugs.
  • Employ and deploy community health-care workers. In sufficient numbers equipped with proper training and dignified conditions of employment they would lead the response by bringing care to those furthest from the reach of traditional health-care systems. S
  • Community-based structures such as “clinic committees” ensure accountability while also fostering partnership and trust between communities and their health-care systems.
  • Grassroots civil society and community-based organisations also ensure accountability. Such organisations are indispensable and would thrive on comparatively small amounts of funding.

Conclusion

People with TB do not need to be watched, they need to be heard. The shiny allure of surveillance technology threatens to distract us from the real work of the TB response; work that involves partnering with communities to employ human-rights based strategies to beat TB.