The ethical imperative to relieve suffering for people with tuberculosis by ensuring access to palliative care
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AbstractPatients diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) continue to experience clinical uncertainty and high mortality and to bear a high burden of symptoms and other concerns. Additional concerns may be family support needs and stigma, particularly the latter, as TB and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) coinfection are common. Human rights covenants, global health policy and the End TB Strategy all recommend palliative care as an essential component of care services. As established in the resolution adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA) on ‘‘Strengthening of palliative care as a component of comprehensive care throughout the life course’’, there is a ‘‘need for palliative care across disease groups (non-communicable diseases, and infectious diseases, including HIV and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis), and across all age groups’’. We address the ethical imperative to respect the dignity and fundamental rights of people with TB by providing palliative care. We review the evidence for the need for person-centred palliative care and highlight novel models that utilise the skills and training functions of specialist palliative care to achieve better care. We outline simple recommendations for the delivery of specialist and generalist palliative care, offer suggestions on how to ensure optimal coverage by enabling access to appropriate good-quality palliative care at all points of the health system, including alongside treatment. Finally, we set out the current priorities for research and policy to ensure that quality care is delivered to all who need it irrespective of treatment outcome, to minimise distress and to optimise engagement in treatment and care.
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