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‘Respect for human rights protects public health during a pandemic’

The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) will launch a policy report “Activating a Human Rights-Based Tuberculosis Response,”authored by Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Professor Brian Citro, on Tuesday, July 21.

Citro said while it may seem counterintuitive, the key lesson he’s learned through years of research and advocacy in the global HIV and tuberculosis responses, is that “respect for human rights protects public health during a pandemic,” adding that now, more than ever, “policymakers and public health programs must hardwire respect for human rights into the policies and interventions meant to keep us safe and healthy.”

Said Citro, who developed and wrote the technical brief with guidance from Blessina Kumar, CEO of the Global Coalition of TB Activists: “My new policy brief lays out the component parts of this lesson in the tuberculosis context. It highlights the roles played by the rights to health, nondiscrimination, privacy, information and liberty in preventing the spread of disease and finding and treating sick people.” 

The July 21 global launch event will be virtual and will include a panel of distinguished speakers, including Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO; Dainius Puras, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Right to Health; Kumar, Citro himself and a host of other panelists.

Click here to register for the webinar.

Citro is an assistant clinical professor with Northwestern Law’s Center for International Human Rights and is available to discuss the policy brief. He can be reached at