International Journal Of Occupational Health and Public Health Nursing

Autonomy and Tuberculosis: Discussion on the Current Legislation in England

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  • Abstract

    Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health threat both for developing and developed countries. In the UK TB is mainly related to immigration from high TB burden regions. The prevention, care and control of Tuberculosis cannot be achieved without taking into consideration ethical aspects. This paper attempts a thorough discussion on the relationship between autonomy and some of the measures and procedures which are in force today in England regarding the control of TB. More specifically, relevant provisions of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 -as amended- and the regulations made under this Act are going to be discussed in compliance with the WHO guidelines on ethics of TB prevention, care and control and to the Siracusa principles as formulated by the United Nations. In general, it could be claimed that the current legislation for the control of TB in England keeps a delicate balance between the right to autonomy and the need for the protection of public health. More scientific data on the necessity and effectiveness of the compulsory measures would be helpful for a consensus to be reached.