Where Caring Is Sharing: Evolving Ethical Considerations in Tuberculosis Prevention Among Healthcare Workers

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In many settings, the dedication of healthcare workers (HCWs) to the treatment of tuberculosis exposes them to serious risks. Current ethical considerations related to tuberculosis prevention in HCWs involve the threat posed by comorbidities, issues of power and space, the implications of intersectoral collaborations, (de)professionalization, just remuneration, the duty to care, and involvement in research. Emerging ethical considerations include mandatory vaccination and the use of geolocalization services and information technologies. The following exploration of these various ethical considerations demonstrates that the language of ethics can fruitfully be deployed to shed new light on policies that have repercussions on the lives of HCWs in underresourced settings. The language of ethics can help responsible parties get a clearer sense of what they owe HCWs, particularly when these individuals are poorly compensated, and it shows that it is essential that HCWs' contribution be acknowledged through a shared commitment to alleviate ethically problematic aspects of the environments within which they provide care. For this reason, there is a strong case for the community of bioethicists to continue to take greater interest both in the micro-level (eg, patient–provider interactions) and macro-level (eg, injustices that occur as a result of the world order) issues that put HCWs working in areas with high tuberculosis prevalence in ethically untenable positions. Ultimately, appropriate responses to the various ethical considerations explored here must vary based on the setting, but, as this article shows, they require thoughtful reflection and courageous action on the part of governments, policy makers, and managers responsible for national responses to the tuberculosis epidemic.

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