March 7th 2017
Screening Act: tuberculosis screening

In the Netherlands at-risk groups  are screened for tuberculosis  by the Community Health Services. In 2012 the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport set conditions on the licence for this form of screening.  To what extent are those conditions met? The Health Council of the Netherlands concludes that good plans of action have been made, but that the implementation of the plans is slow.

Executive summary

In accordance with the Population Screening Act, in 2012 the Minister of Health stated conditions for the renewal of the permission for screening for tuberculosis by the community health services (GGD). To protect the population at risk from the possible disadvantages of screening, the community health services, under the heading of GGD GHOR Netherlands, should formulate a plan of action within one year. The plan should concentrate on (improving) the screening method, the organization and quality of the screening and the provision of information and complaints procedures for the participants. At the request of the Minister, the Committee on Population Screening, assessed the measures taken by the community health services and GGD GHOR Netherlands, as holder of the license.

The Committee notes that the community health services have made good plans to meet the legal requirements of the screening for tuberculosis. However, the implementation of the plans is slow, which is why not all the conditions have been met. The Committee suspects that this is due to the decentralized structure of the community health services, reducing the level of central coordination required for a high quality nationwide standardized population based screening program. It therefore advises the Minister to urge the community health services to give priority to the implementation of the plans. It also advises to put the screening for tuberculosis under central coordination and recommends to model the coordination in accordance with the population based screening programs for cancer in the Netherlands.