Access to high quality healthcare is a human right for all (UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 2000). A high quality, person-centred approach is where the needs, preferences and experiences of those seeking treatment along with their right to be treated with respect are considered (Kruk et al., 2018). This further involves ‘thorough assessment, detection of asymptomatic and co-existing conditions, accurate diagnosis, appropriate and timely treatment, referral when needed for hospital care and surgery, and the ability to follow the patient and adjust the treatment course as needed’ (Kruk et al., 2018).
On all of the above, TB care has a long way to go and needs to address many challenges! The Lancet Global Health Commission on High Quality Health Systems highlighted that inadequate quality of care can lead to adverse outcomes such as persistent symptoms, lack of trust in the healthcare system and unnecessary health-related suffering and economic expenditures. The commission reported that about 50% of TB-related deaths are the result of poor quality of care. Data from low-middle income countries indicates that one in three people have negative experiences with the healthcare system, including poor communication, staff shortages, poor infection control measures and long waiting hours. Vulnerable populations including people living in poverty and those with stigmatised conditions such as TB are affected the most.
In order to address these shortfalls within our health systems specific to TB, world leaders at the United Nations High Level Meeting in 2018 committed to transform the TB response to ‘be equitable, human rights-based and people-centered’ by ensuring that:
● policies recognise human rights including key populations to know their TB status and to provide affordable, accessible and equitable access to services and care;
● discriminatory laws against people with TB are removed and rights-based laws, policies and practises are promoted; and
● equitable access and universal uptake of TB drugs, diagnostics and vaccines are facilitated.
These commitments are all related to quality TB care, and require urgent attention, especially considering the set-backs of the COVID-19 pandemic on TB programs. To put an end to TB being a leading infectious disease killer globally, we need world leaders to ensure that the voices of people affected by TB are at the heart of the TB response – we need person-centered quality TB care for all people.
- T1.) How would you define quality TB care?
- T2.) What is the number 1 challenge in quality TB care?
- T3.) Who are key players in ensuring Quality TB care, and what action do we need from them for better quality TB care?
- T4.) What innovations and changes do you suggest for ensuring better and person-centered quality TB care?
- T5.) How can the health system respond better to people’s needs to improve quality of care?
- CT.) (Closing thoughts) Is there anything else you feel is important to add to the conversation?
Start your answers with T1, T2, T3, T4, T5 or CT for transcript purposes.
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