The University of North Carolina (UNC) – partner with the Malawi government on a cancer pathology laboratory at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) – says it is contented with the tremendous successes the laboratory has registered since 2011, describing it as a model for sub-Saharan Africa.
Study author and member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Centre’s Global Oncology Program, Dr. Satish Gopal, said the laboratory has provided invaluable service to patients.
“A robust platform for cancer care and research now exists in a setting where it did not previously, and can serve as a model for similar interventions throughout sub-Saharan Africa,” said Gopal, according to PLOS ONE.
According to records, the lab is one of the only two pathology labs in Malawi whose population is currently estimated at 16 million, and is helping to relieve diagnostic delays that contribute to late diagnoses and early deaths for Malawians suffering from Cancer.
It is staffed by Malawians who include Prof. George Liomba–a senior Malawian pathologist formerly with the Malawi’s College of Medicine in the commercial capital of Blantyre.
But Gopal said the sustainability of the project can be achieved if local health care workers can take a leading role.
“Telepathology has been an important tool for collaboration, rather than a primary mode by which diagnostic interpretation are rendered,” he said.
He added: “Importantly, it cannot be a substitute for training a sufficient number of Malawian pathologists and laboratory technicians to provide essential diagnostic services.”
Consequently, UNC has directly supported the training of technicians abroad who have returned and are rendering their services at KCH.
Cancer is one great health problem the country is grappling with. Since 1999 the rates have doubled due to HIV related factors which increases risk of many cancers.