Baobab on "The detention of contagious patients"

Dienstag, 28 September, 2010


Could the detention of infectious patients refusing the treatment be acceptable for you?

““…  MSF doctors have defended the arrest and incarceration of two men infected with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), who failed to adhere to their treatment in Kapsabet, Kenya. "Safeguarding public health supersedes an individual's right to comfort and these two not only had an infectious disease but were also failing to take their drugs as prescribed," said Joseph Sitienei, head of the National Leprosy and TB Control Programme. "They were not only endangering their lives but also those of other people.” NAIROBI, 24 August (IRIN)

Could this be possible? This story is a true one… except that MSF doctors were not involved. But according to Kenyan law, and according to the present draft of WHO guidelines, it is possible, as a last resort, to detain a highly infectious individual who refuses treatment. Involved in the care management of patients suffering from MDR forms of TB (Swaziland, Kyrgyzstan…), MSF staff will be confronted with patients refusing treatment. Would you support the idea of forcedly detaining an individual for the sake of protecting the population?

Put in an MSF perspective:

  1. Can you imagine MSF participating in the detention process in one way or the other?
  2. Must MSF stand up now and say publicly that detention is not acceptable in any case?
  3. Must MSF offer its services to individuals who would be forcedly detained while denouncing such a practice?


  • Frauke Jochims
  • Philippe Calain