This chapter examines the influence of human rights in the quest to control communicable diseases. Communicable diseases are emerging and spreading faster than ever before, with devastating consequences for the most vulnerable in a rapidly globalizing world. Human rights have come to frame infectious disease control, beginning in the early response to AIDS and expanding from the stigmatization of marginalized populations to include the provision of essential medicines. Human rights claims have correspondingly expanded, arising out of norms of non-discrimination, consent, and privacy and now including the right to health. As individual rights compete with state authority, the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) International Health Regulations (2005) aim to guide states in a rights-based response to communicable disease. However, as seen in recent Ebola outbreaks, human rights have lost priority to health security as the dominant frame for health policy, and this securitization of communicable disease control may undermine the gains of human rights, risking the future of global health.
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