Re-establishing a surgical pathology service in Kumasi, Ghana

Case report and discussion of barriers and key elements of a successful collaboration between low- and high-resource countries


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At Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, Ghana, a breakdown of technical equipment and lack of pathologists resulted in closure of the surgical pathology laboratory in 2004. At an international meeting in January 2005, 1 USA and 1 Norwegian pathologist were asked if their departments could help with the pathology problem at KATH. This article describes the proposals, the barriers encountered, and the key elements of the final successful collaboration between a low-resource and a high-resource country. The proposal to the USA hospital focused on receiving specimens for diagnosis. A detailed proposal was not developed, as several key operational barriers were identified early on, including legal issues, technical capacity issues, and staff capacity issues. The proposal to the University Hospital of North Norway (UNN) resulted in development of a 5-year plan to reestablish surgical pathology at KATH. Two KATH technicians came to UNN and trained in the histopathology laboratory for 3 months. On their return, they started producing slides at KATH. Since April 2006, weekly shipments of hematoxylin and eosin (H & E) stained slides have been sent to UNN by courier service. When needed, paraffin blocks are sent on request. In March 2006, 2 young Ghanaian physicians were received as trainees at the UNN to do full resident work and training with the aim of being approved as specialists in pathology in Ghana by 2010. Full surgical pathology service and training of new pathologists on site are expected to be reestablished at KATH by 2010. Cancer 2008;113(8 suppl):2338–46. © 2008 American Cancer Society.