Tuberculosis, Human Rights, and The Law: A Judicial Workshop

Through December 20, 2015
UChicago Center in Delhi

Dec. 19


Despite the fact that tuberculosis (TB) is a curable disease, it remains a leading threat to global health. TB is second only to HIV/AIDS as the leading cause of death worldwide arising from a single infectious agent. In 2013 alone, there were approximately 9 million new cases of TB and 1.5 million deaths resulting from the disease—more than 4,000 deaths a day. 360,000 of these deaths involved people living with HIV.

The burden of TB is disproportionately borne by low and middle income countries, which account for 95% of all deaths from TB globally. India and China alone accounted for 24% and 11% of all new TB cases in 2013, respectively. Within countries, differences in TB prevalence reflect the same alarming disparities between the wealthy and the poor. In India, for example, data from a recent Demographic and Health Study reveals that members of  the  poorest  quintile  are  5.5  times  more likely to self-­‐report TB than those in the wealthiest quintile.


A rights-­‐based approach to TB articulates the rights of people living with and vulnerable to TB, including the rights to life, health, nondiscrimination, privacy, informed consent, housing, food and water. The approach focuses on the social and economic determinants of the disease. It articulates the domestic and international legal obligations of governments and non-­‐state actors  to  ensure quality testing and treatment for TB is available and accessible without discrimination. The approach aims to create an enabling legal environment for the research and development of new, more effective TB medicines and to lower the prices of existing drugs, including new medicines for multi drug-­‐resistant TB (MDR-­‐TB). A rights-­‐based approach requires that special attention be paid to the needs of groups most vulnerable to TB in the design and implementation of health policies, including the poor, people living with HIV, prisoners, migrants, women, children, and people who use drugs. The approach also encourages and facilitates the active and informed participation  of affected individuals and communities in decision-­‐making processes affecting their health.


Our goal for this workshop, comprised of judges and other legal professionals, was to familiarize the legal community in India and other Commonwealth jurisdictions with the legal and human rights issues associated with TB. The workshop provided an opportunity for judges and legal professionals to exchange ideas and discuss their experiences and knowledge toward the goal of developing informed legal strategies and informed judicial approaches to TB. Along with judges and  lawyers,  presenters  and  participants included  medical  and  public  health  experts, civil society, and people living with TB and former TB patients.