Vulnerable populations and the right to health: Lessons from the Peruvian Amazon around tuberculosis control

Camila Gianella, M. Amalia Pesantes, Cesar Ugarte-Gil, David A.J. Moore, Claudia Lema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In 2014 the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the "End TB Strategy", setting new ambitious goals for elimination of tuberculosis (TB). In contrast with previous efforts to control TB, the new strategy adopted the protection and promotion of human rights in TB prevention and care as a core pillar. This mandated the development of national programmes that are sensitive to the characteristics of populations and responsive to structural factors that put people at increased risk of exposure to TB, limit access to good quality health services and make people more vulnerable to TB infection. Indigenous people living in the Peruvian Amazon have been identified as a TB vulnerable group by Peruvian health authorities. This article examines the barriers faced by indigenous people and rural settlers from the Peruvian Amazon in obtaining a TB diagnosis and appropriate TB treatment, through the principles of the human rights based approach of accessibility, availability, affordability, adaptability and quality, and thus provides evidence of the utility of such approach in Peru. Methods: This is a qualitative study. We combined information from policy documents and legal regulations and in-depth interviews with health workers and health authorities. We used Atlas-ti to conduct a thematic analysis and identify interviewees responses to pre-defined topics. Results: Despite having a strong legal framework to protect the right to health of indigenous people and people affected by TB, there are underlying structural factors contributing to delays in detection, diagnosis and TB treatment, which are mostly related to having a health system poorly prepared to provide care for people living in dispersed rural communities. This article shows the limited level of integration of the "End TB Strategy" principles in the Peruvian National TB Programme and identifies the weakness of the health system to improve health care provision for indigenous people and rural settlers from the Peruvian Amazon. Conclusions: Our study shows the need to go beyond developing a strong legal framework to ensure vulnerable populations such as indigenous people are able to realize their right to health. Governments need to allocate funds, improve training and adapt healthcare provision to the cultural, geographical, and social context of indigenous people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number28
JournalInternational Journal for Equity in Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 3 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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