Kenyan Network for Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

TThe core group of the Kenyan Network for Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, which is part of INCTR’s “iPath” program, met in the beginning of February at the Department of Human Pathology, University of Nairobi to discuss progress and future plans. At present, online dialogue, consultation and mutual support for the national group is being provided by an international group of experts consisting of members of the INCTR Faculty. The Kenyan network will initially include the Departments of Pathology at the University of Nairobi and the Departments of Pathology and Haematology of Moi University. Other Kenyan institutions are expected to join at a later date . Three pathologists , Drs Walong, Barosa and Ndiangui have been appointed as coordinators for the Network. They will visit each institution that applies to join the network in order to assess the facilities available at present, and what would be required in addition to effectively contribute to and benefit from the network. An form has been designed to allow uniform assessment of all participating institutions. Since Kenya has a number of well trained pathologists and hematologists as well as some advanced laboratories, local experts can be recruited to act as consultants. Kenyan pathologists working in various pathology fields have already agreed to participate and plans are underway to establish chemical pathology networks in the near future.

This project has been initiated as a direct consequence of the discussions that took place during the Hematopathology Tutorials held in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in September 2011 (see November 2011 INCTR Newsflash). The opportunity to have a large number of participants from peripheral hospitals attending this meeting made it possible to collect information on the skills and resources at these smaller hospitals. Because of the very few pathologists working in the regional hospitals, young and inexperienced pathologists are often sent to these areas, where they are expected to be involved in all aspects of diagnostic pathology, besides offering leadership in the laboratories. This is an enormous task for even an experienced pathologist with well equipped laboratories, but when equipment is inadequate, administrative help minimal and the clinicians have little appreciation of pathology, the system cannot function with an acceptable degree of efficiency. Technologists working in these hospitals face a similarly difficult situation, with few options for continuing professional development. Even if they are able to attend courses to learn new methods, the lack of subsequent support can make it difficult for them to to use the new techniques in their own laboratories.

It is to alleviate the above mentioned problems of professionals working in isolation that the National Network of iPath users has been established. Through this network there would be ample opportunities for interactions among experienced and less experienced pathologists and technologists. The iPath software, because of its simplicity and low operational costs, is an ideal tool for initiating and rapidly expanding an outreach program of this kind. If it is successful in Kenya it may serve as a model for other African countries.

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