Pathology services in developing countriesthe West African experience

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Abstract

Context. - Histopathology, like other branches of medicine in West Africa, has suffered largely from economic, political, social, and infrastructural problems, becoming a shadow of the top quality that had been obtained in the past. To address the prevailing problems, one needs to attempt defining them. Objective.-The existing structure of training and practice are discussed, highlighting the author's perception of the problems and suggesting practical ways to address these while identifying potential roles for North American pathology organizations. Design.-The author's past and ongoing association with pathology practice in Nigeria forms the basis for this review. Results.-Pathology practice is largely restricted to academic medical centers. The largest of academic centers each accession around 4000 or fewer surgical specimens per year to train 9 to 12 residents. Histopathology largely uses hematoxylin-eosin routine stains, sometimes with histochemistry but rarely immunohistochemistry. Pathologists depend largely on their skills in morphology (with its limitations) to classify and subclassify tumors on routine stains, including soft tissue and hematolymphoid malignancies. Immunofluorescence, intraoperative frozen section diagnosis, electronic laboratory system, and gross and microscopic imaging facilities are generally not available for clinical use. Conclusion.-The existing facilities and infrastructure can be augmented with provision of material and professional assistance from other pathology associations in more developed countries and should, among other things, focus on supplementing residency education. Virtual residency programs, short-visit observerships, development of simple but practical laboratory information systems, and closer ties with pathologists in these countries are some of the sueeested steps in achieving this goal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-186
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Volume135
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

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