Reciprocity and Ethical Tuberculosis Treatment and Control
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This paper explores the notion of reciprocity in the context of active pulmonary and laryngeal tuberculosis (TB) treatment and related control policies and practices. We seek to do three things: First, we sketch the background to contemporary global TB care and suggest that poverty is a key feature when considering the treatment of TB patients. We use two examples from TB care to explore the role of reciprocity: isolation and the use of novel TB drugs. Second, we explore alternative means of justifying the use of reciprocity through appeal to different moral and political theoretical traditions (i.e., virtue ethics, deontology, and consequentialism). We suggest that each theory can be used to provide reasons to take reciprocity seriously as an independent moral concept, despite any other differences. Third, we explore general meanings and uses of the concept of reciprocity, with the primary intention of demonstrating that it cannot be simply reduced to other more frequently invoked moral concepts such as beneficence or justice. We argue that reciprocity can function as a mid-level principle in public health, and generally, captures a core social obligation arising once an individual or group is burdened as a result of acting for the benefit of others (even if they derive a benefit themselves). We conclude that while more needs to be explored in relation to the theoretical justification and application of reciprocity, sufficient arguments can be made for it to be taken more seriously as a key principle within public health ethics and bioethics more generally.
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