Table 13: TB and the Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and its Applications

Examples of Human Rights Violations

  • TB patients in resource-constrained settings may have limited access to high-quality diagnostic services and first- and second-line medicines for treatment.
  • Restrictive intellectual property regimes limit access to quality, affordable anti-TB medicines.
Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
ICESCR 15(1)(b) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone… [t]o enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications… None.

Other Interpretations 

SR Cultural Rights (2012): 

Para. 61. The Special Rapporteur notes that new incentives have been proposed to ensure innovation and access to medicines at affordable costs, in particular for those living in extreme poverty. Importantly, the WTO Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and public health explicitly recognizes that the TRIPS Agreement “can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO Members’ right to protect public health”, and reaffirmed the right to use the flexibilities included in the Agreement for this purpose. A/HRC/20/26 (2012).

WHO Guidelines for the programmatic management of drug-resistant tuberculosis (WHO, 2011): Extensive discussion of prevention, treatment and care options for MDR- and XDR-TB, including HIV-coinfection.

WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (WHO, 2011).

WHO Guidance on ethics of tuberculosis prevention, care and control (WHO, 2010):

The gap between the availability of drug susceptibility testing and access to M/XDR-TB treatment. Countries that implement diagnostic testing in the absence of treatment should do so only as a temporary measure, and should establish a timetable for when treatment for M/XDR-TB will be made available…. As emphasized above, countries and TB programmes should provide universal, free access to drug susceptibility testing; for resource-constrained countries that cannot meet this obligation on their own, the international community should give financial and other support.

Research on TB care and control. There is an urgent need to develop an enhanced evidence base for TB prevention and treatment, and to improve the standard of care. Achieving these goals will be impossible without a greater commitment to research…. The international community should cooperate to develop incentives to encourage this kind of research and development. It is also important to ensure that, as evidence is developed, it is made publicly available and integrated into practice.

WHO Guidance on human rights and involuntary detention for XDR-TB control (WHO, 2007):

WHO places prevention and care of XDR-TB as a priority through the strengthening of basic TB control and the necessary interventions to cure existing cases…. [This] includes ensuring that the capacity to identify and treat drug-resistant TB is in place, with a secure supply of second-line anti-TB drugs required for treating multidrug-resistant TB obtained through the Green Light Committee (in resource-limited settings)…. WHO strongly recommends that governments must ensure, as their top priority, that every patient has access to high quality TB diagnosis and treatment for TB and drug-resistant forms of TB.

Berlin Declaration on Tuberculosis (WHO European Ministerial Forum, 2007)

Para. 5(2). We will adopt the Stop TB Strategy in all its components, thereby… allowing and promoting research into and the development of new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines, as well as programme-based operational research. EUR/07/5061622/5 (2007).

Access to medication in the context of pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, Resolutions 2005/23, 2004/26, 2003/29 & 2002/32 (UN Commission on Human Rights).

General Comment No. 17: The right of everyone to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author (art. 15 (1) (c)) (CESCR, 2006):

States parties should ensure that their intellectual property regimes constitute no impediment of their ability to comply with their core obligations in relation to the right to health … States thus have a duty to prevent that unreasonably high license fees or royalties for access to essential medicines … undermine the right … of large segments of the population to health …. E/C.12/GC/17 (2006).

Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS (UN General Assembly, 2006):

Para. 33. Emphasize the need for accelerated scale-up of collaborative activities on tuberculosis and HIV, in line with the Global Plan to Stop TB 2006–2015, and for investment in new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines that are appropriate for people with TB-HIV co-infection.

Abuja Call for Accelerated Action Towards Universal Access to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Services in Africa (African Union, 2006):

Research and Development. To promote and support research and development of microbicides, vaccines, diagnostics and treatment for HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria, including traditional medicine. Sp/Assembly/ATM/2 (I) Rev.3 (2006).

Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health (World Trade Organization, 2001):

Para. 4. [T]he TRIPS agreement does not and should not prevent Members from taking measures to protect public health … in particular to promote access to medicines for all…. Each member has the right to grant compulsory licences and the freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licences are granted…[and] the right to determine what constitutes a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency, it being understood that public health crises, including those relating to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics, can represent a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency. WT/MIN(01)/DEC/2 (2001).

Amsterdam Declaration to Stop TB (WHO Ministerial Conference on “TB and Sustainable Development”, 2000):

Part V. [A]ccelerate basic & operational research for the development & delivery of new tools, including diagnostics, drugs & vaccines, & pay attention to the need for improved incentives for drug & vaccine development in a manner consistent with affordability & accessibility