Alies de With, tuberculosis nurse in The Netherlands: “The Dutch TB handbook is an excellent reference book”

The updated Dutch Tuberculosis 2015 Handbook was approved by the Committee for Practical TB Control Netherlands (CPT) at the end of 2014. KNCV led the initiative for this new edition, which is available in print and online. We asked Dutch TB nurse Alies de With why this handbook is important for her daily practice.Alies de With

“TB control practice is always changing, and the guidelines are regularly amended.”

Alies de With has been a TB control nurse since 1993. She works for the Community Health Services, supporting TB patients and advising their caregivers, including regular visits to TB patients in the asylum-seekers’ centers and in urban settings. In addition, she gives preventive health advice to people who travel overseas and also represents TB nurses in various national working groups. “It is very good to have such a compact handbook”, says Alies de With. “This gives a complete insight into the field, without going into too much detail. The content is precisely what I need: it gives an overview of how TB control is organized in our country, as well as specific practical information and relevant references.”

Today, with the decline in the number of TB patients in the Netherlands, there are only about 60 TB nurses remaining, and many of them work only part-time. Under these circumstances, it is a challenge to maintain a high level of up-to-date knowledge and experience regarding TB in the healthcare services.

The new TB 2015 Handbook serves a wider readership than its predecessor, which was published in 2008. In addition to TB professionals in the Netherlands, the new Handbook is designed to inform students and healthcare staff in other fields. The Handbook is an essential reference: even seasoned practitioners like Alies de With still use it regularly. “TB control practice is always changing, and the guidelines are regularly amended”, she says. “Sometimes I need to refresh my memory on what is currently recommended practice. I find the Handbook an excellent reference book: it is ideal for using online. It nicely brings together all that we need to know, and for more details there is a reference to the relevant guideline or regulation at the top of each paragraph. For instance, if we need to organize a contact investigation, we can easily to refer to the Handbook for a reminder of the criteria for determining the first and second rings of contact. The Handbook is also convenient when we need to explain the contact investigation procedure.”

The TB 2015 Handbook reflects policies approved by the CPT and other health profession representative bodies. It is an example of a successful collaboration under the auspices of the Committee for Practical TB Control Netherlands (CPT) between KNCV, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), and the Municipal Health Services (GGD). KNCV led the initiative in its role as coordinator of the CPT. The Handbook, which was written in 2014 and approved by the CPT in December 2014, was published by KNCV in January 2015.