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Study visit to the Dutch Institute for Public Health, (RIVM, Nivel, Erasmus MC), 13-15 November 2017

From November 13th to 15th three SECID’s specialists (one from Serbia: Dr Dragana Dimitrijevic and two from Montenegro: Dr Božidarka Rakocevic and Ana Radulovic) conducted a study visit to RIVM (the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment); NIVEL (Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research) and Erasmus MC. This activity was part of the project "Surveillance and Response to Avian and Pandemic Influenza by the National Health Authorities of Countries of South East Europe", financed by CDC, USA.

The Dutch colleagues presented the RIVM virology and National Influenza Centre tasks; the main activities and the team structure of laboratories and also the cooperation of the laboratory with epidemiological structures; they demonstrated the laboratory techniques used for influenza and other respiratory viruses, sample collection, and transport from the patient to the laboratory, protocols applied to the laboratory for the detection of influenza. At NIVEL (Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research) it was given a general info about the work and role of NIVEL followed by the presentation of Dutch ILI research. The sentinel GPs report on a weekly or annual basis about the occurrence of a number of illnesses, incidents and interventions which are absent from routine registrations and, therefore are difficult to be recorded otherwise. Senior researcher and coordinator surveillance of NIVEL Primary Care Database presented the role of sentinel physicians, medical institutions and hospitals as well as their cooperation in order to collect data and applying measures to combat the spread of flu. At Erasmus MC – Virology Department, the head of the immune-virology group of the department of virology introduced the work of laboratory which is divided into diagnostic and research unites. The immune-virology group is focusing on virus-specific immunity induced by infection or vaccination, in particular to influenza viruses. 

Netherlands showed a high degree of professionalism and organizational capabilities, they were also open to share experiences and openly described the challenges they encounter in improving monitoring and reporting on flu. This study visit was a worthy experience.