“It’s inspiring to see training participants who are motivated to apply freshly learned concepts to their daily work”

“It’s inspiring to see training participants who are motivated to apply freshly learned concepts to their daily work”

Liesbeth Oey, Training and Education Consultant for The Union, is proud to have contributed to the capacity building of tuberculosis (TB) health staff, and the improvement of care for people with TB through her work with The Union.

“The Union makes a difference by working in and with countries” she says. “We use countries’ experiences to tailor international health guidelines to each country’s unique situation and needs. Union courses are hands-on, setting-specific and aligned with global policies targeted to the sub-national level of TB programmes.

“The goal is to build sustainable capacity in these countries. The TBData4Action course in Kenya, which was recently designated a ‘best practice’ there, started with two international Union facilitators. But after five training courses, Kenyan TB experts now run the programme with support from one Union facilitator. At the end of the project we will withdraw as the country staff will have been empowered to fully implement the course themselves.”

Liesbeth’s background is in training and education. She earned her first master’s degree in Educational Science and expanded her expertise with a second master’s degree in Medical Anthropology. Her experience in public health includes roles at KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, the World Health Organization and Partners in Health.

“I first became interested in TB in 2002 when I joined KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation as a training consultant. Since then my interest has grown exponentially and now I cannot imagine working in another field. I have managed to find my ideal professional niche.”

Liesbeth’s involvement with The Union dates back to 2003, when she first joined as a member. Her work now consists of identifying training gaps and opportunities in different countries and working with national TB programmes, donors and local partners to create tailored curricula that responds to a country’s particular needs.

“The new online course: Prevent Tuberculosis: Management of TB Infection, is a great example. It takes TB prevention, and through its six modules, works to increase country-level implementation as a key element to TB eradication. I worked closely with three colleagues from The Union’s TB department to design a comprehensive training programme that is free and accessible to anyone.” Liesbeth’s expertise in education allows her to design and monitor the didactical aspects of the course, making sure the course adheres to the principles of adult learning.

She is also particularly proud of the TBData4Action courses: “This programme has shown great success in looking at specific solutions – here we trained participants to use routinely available TB data at all levels of the TB programme in order to make data-driven decisions.

“This sort of tailored approach is what makes Union courses unique – and they see results: Kenya has designated this method a ‘best practice’ and we’ve had interest from other countries to expand the programme.”

Liesbeth is driven by the successful outcomes she witnesses: “It’s inspiring to see training participants who are motivated to apply freshly learned concepts to their daily work.” Seeing this enthusiasm gives Liesbeth excitement for the future, including this year’s TBData4Action courses and new online courses that are in development.

Liesbeth’s approach to getting things done derives from Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote, “The future depends on what you do today”, which she holds close to her heart. She applies this saying not only to her professional life, but also to her personal life where she invests in her own physical capabilities: “I used to be a volleyball player at national level, and now I train for triathlons. I am also a scuba diver; on New Year’s Day this year I was excited to dive into the North Sea, in the cold waters off the coast of the Netherlands.”

She adds: “However, of all my most physical exertions, and intense working practices, the most exhausting pursuit I have are my four grandchildren, all aged between two and four years old!”