Botswana tuberculosis (TB) stakeholders broadly support scaling up next-generation whole genome sequencing: Ethical and practical considerations for Botswana and global health

Stephen Molldrem, Sedilame Bagani, Vishnu Subrahmanyam, Rebecca Permar, Ogopotse Matsiri, Cynthia Caiphus, Balladiah Kizito, Chawangwa Modongo, Sanghyuk S. Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Global health agencies are increasingly promoting the scale-up of next-generation whole genome sequencing (NG-WGS) of pathogens into infectious disease control programs, including for tuberculosis (TB). However, little is known about how stakeholders in low-to-middle income countries (LMICs) understand the ethics, benefits, and risks of these proposals. We conducted a qualitative study in Greater Gaborone, Botswana to learn how TB stakeholders there viewed a potential scale-up of NG-WGS into Botswana’s TB program. We conducted 30 interviews and four deliberative dialogues with TB stakeholders based in Greater Gaborone, the country’s largest city and capital. We created and showed participants an animated video series about a fictional family that experienced TB diagnosis, treatment, contact tracing, and data uses that were informed by NG-WGS. We analyzed transcripts using reflexive thematic analysis. We found broad support for the scale-up of TB NG-WGS in Botswana, owing to perceived benefits. Support was qualified with statements about ensuring adequate planning, resource-allocation, community and stakeholder engagement, capacity-building, and assessing ethical norms around publishing data. Our results suggest that scaling up NG-WGS for TB in Botswana would be supported by stakeholders there, contingent upon the government and other entities adequately investing in the initiative. These findings are relevant to other LMICs considering scale-ups of NG-WGS and related technologies for infectious diseases and suggest the need for sustained research into the acceptability of pathogen sequencing in other contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0002479
JournalPLOS Global Public Health
Volume3
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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