Malawi govt should train more pathologists – Prof Liomba

Amid acute shortage of specialised personnel who can conduct autopsies, renowned retired pathologist Professor George Liomba has asked government to train some clinicians and nurses in pathology.

Prof Liomba: stresses the need to increase the number of pathologists

Liomba made the call in Mzuzu during a consultative meeting on review of the Public Health Act by the Law Commission on Thursday.

The retired pathologist professor said it is sad that currently there are seven trained pathologists against over 17 million people.

“I need to propose to government that it is possible to train available clinicians and nurses in specialised pathology as is the case in other medical fields.

“We have seen some clinicians and nurses specially trained in fields like optometry just to bridge the gap that is there; this is why it is again possible to train other officers in pathology,” Liomba said.

Pathologists basically explain what the disease is, what causes it and how it happens [processes that happen in the body for the disease to manifest as symptoms and signs].

The retired pathologist explained that while he was still in practice, he, together with a College of Medicine histopathologist , Charles Dzamalala, started conducting lessons in pathology to other medical officers.

“We started the trainings in Blantyre some time back with Dr Dzamalala where clinicians and nurses were trained in the field [pathology], but the trainings had to be halted because of lack of funding,” he said.

Liomba further proposed that government should stop using clinicians to certify deaths in hospitals.

“There should be a limit on who certifies deaths that occur in hospitals as there is a difference of 12 percent on what clinicians say and what pathologists say.

“We might end up giving the public information that is not factually wholly truthful,” he said.

Chairperson of the Special Law Commission on the review of the Public Health Act, Justice Dingiswayo Madise said the current Act does not comply with changing scientific development issues hence the review.

Malawi is currently using an ‘archaic’ Public Health Act which was enacted some seven decades ago (1948).

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4 years ago

I quote “There should be a limit on who certifies deaths that occur in hospitals because as it is there is a 12 % difference between what clinicians say and what pathologistst say” Hope you are referring to the cause of death or disease and not whether death has occurred or not . We can handle the former but the latter means 12% of the times in the absence of pathologists, which is the normal case in our hospitals , some might 12 out of 100 or have been declared dead while they are still dododo or 1 out of… Read more »

Health Worker
Health Worker
4 years ago

Unfortortunately, during his time as the only pathologist, Dr. Liomba did not make any effort to have more people trained in the field.

4 years ago
Reply to  Health Worker

At that time nepotism was fashionable because the Histopathology department was occupied by people from one region only hence no effort to share the cake with willing Lab Techs from other regions.Open the course to Lab Offers and not Nurses and Clinicians who are already with occupied with clinical and nursing care .

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