From the 6th until the 16th of June, we welcomed a delegation from the Nigerian Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH) in the Netherlands. Together with the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation in the Hague, we organized this visit to encourage knowledge exchange between the OAUTH and several Dutch organizations. Together we hope to contribute to a world free of Tuberculosis through exchanging knowledge and methods on how to fight the spread of the disease.
We kicked off the visit with an introduction at the IOM office in the Hague. The IOM NL chief of mission and focal point at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs joined us in welcoming the Nigerian delegation. The meeting was concluded with a quiz about the Netherlands. “What is the Dutch national colour?” “Orange of course! We always watch the Dutch football team play!” After a fruitful afternoon of online courses and a photoshoot in front of the Peace Palace, the first day of knowledge exchange came to an end.
In the following days, the Nigerian delegation visited the tuberculosis treatment centre Beatrixoord in Haren and the RIVM in Bilthoven. “The organizations are very well-structured. It is very good to see that there’s a lot of social support for tuberculosis patients in the Netherlands”, so one of the participants reflected. Together with staff from KNCV, Beatrixoord and RIVM, the delegation found ways to improve Tuberculosis care in Nigeria. “Tuberculosis care in the Netherlands is patient-centred, personalized and multi-disciplinary. We take these lessons home to Nigeria”.
Besides these informative excursions, the Nigerian delegation also managed to experience some Dutch culture over the weekend. They took some photos alongside the canals of Amsterdam and even tried the highlight of the Dutch cuisine: bitterballen! “I think this is a type of food which comes closest to something we eat in Nigeria”, Olayemi Fehintola mentioned. We found it a pleasant surprise that she could find a sense of home in the Dutch snack.
In the second week, the delegation visited the tuberculosis department of the Municipal Health Service in Amsterdam. This visit highlighted the efficient collaboration between all stakeholders when it comes to fighting and treating tuberculosis; local authorities, hospitals and other organizations work together and exchange information for the benefit of tuberculosis care. One of the delegation’s self-formulated take-home lessons is to introduce Nigerian organizations to this type of intersectoral collaboration.
On their final day in the Netherlands, the delegation and KNCV staff members reflected on the visit and formulated action points. They discussed data generation, the importance of developing new policies and support systems for patients, future collaborations, and a capacity-building strategy. The ten days of knowledge exchange were concluded with a visit to the Nigerian embassy in the Hague, where we were warmly welcomed by the Minister Plenipotentiary and the embassy staff.
We very much enjoyed meeting the delegation of the OAUTH and seeing how new ideas emerged over the course of the exchange visit. The hard work and enthusiasm of all people involved in this visit are greatly appreciated and we look forward to hearing more about the follow-up activities in Nigeria. As Temitope formulated nicely during the final presentation: “We have a long road to walk, but we have to start somewhere.”