TBnet Academy: a Frontrunner for TB Education in Global Health

Site visits to hospitals, excursions to laboratories, and student-led teaching methods, these are just a few of the things that make the annual TBnet Academy unique.

Each year, the TBnet Academy brings together around 20 young clinicians and researchers to attend a three-day intensive course about tuberculosis (TB) management and research in Europe. This year’s event was held on May 12-15 in Bucharest, Romania, and was financially supported by the German Ministry of Health.

TB is the world’s deadliest infectious disease. In 2017 alone, 1.6 million people died from the disease, according to WHO.

The TBnet Academy is organized by TBnet, a 650-member European consortium consisting of health care professionals and scientists, aimed at promoting quality of care and research in the field of TB. TBnet was founded by several organizations, including AIGHD,

“What separates this course from other courses, is that it usually is held in countries where the incidence of TB is high. This provides the participants insight in the clinical and operational challenges of TB-control activities in such a context,” said  AIGHD’s Frank van Leth, Associate Professor and Academic Staff at AIGHD. van Leth also serves as TBnet Chair and teaches part of the course.

Students apply to attend and are selected through a competitive process. The teachers in the course are a mix of experts from different domains, and former TBnet Academy participants. Crucial is the active participation of the participants  who teach part of the course content to their peers.

“Students study a specific area of TB in advance, facilitated by TBnet faculty, and then give a lecture to the other students as part of the course. This student-driven approach, in combination with the seniority of the researchers who teach the course, create an impactful learning environment,” explains van Leth.

Students echo the comments of van Leth.

”I was impressed how lecturers could speak about serious topics and important messages while being informal and friendly at the same time, said one student. “I know that at events like these you find the best people in their fields [and] keeping up to date with the latest research and people working in this domain is among my top priorities,” added an early career physician.

Currently, the incidence of TB around the world is falling but not as quickly as it needs to. There are also drug resistant strains of the disease, which are increasingly complex to treat. Research into infectious diseases including TB is one of AIGHD’s key research priorities.

The work of TBnet is increasingly important to improve diagnosis, treatment and research around TB. With its blend of on-site learning, student driven teaching and in-depth curriculum, The TBnet Academy will help ensure the next generation of scientists and researchers are well-prepared to continue to fight this epidemic head on.

To learn more about TBnet visit TBnet’s website.