I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of the NSH Lee G. Luna Foreign Travel Scholarship in 2021, which was sponsored by Sakura Finetek USA. This scholarship was given to support costs for study and/or obtaining a histotechnological education abroad (outside the US) or for an outreach program.
I applied for the scholarship in hopes of joining my colleague, David Davis, in Liberia to help establish the second histology laboratory in the country of Liberia. David was part of the first laboratory established in 2019 at JFK Memorial Hospital. He and his crew helped train the medical technicians at the hospital in histology. For this trip, we set out to establish the second laboratory at Rainbow Hospital in Monrovia.
Developing countries have a host of issues they need to overcome to provide adequate healthcare to the population, Liberia is no exception. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a 1:1,000 doctor to patient ratio for adequate healthcare service, yet according to a 2016 report by the Liberia Medical and Dental Council, the country has just 298 medical doctors to care for that country's 4.5 million population, a doctor/patient ratio of 1: 15 (1). Currently there are only three pathologists in the entire country.
Setting up a new histology lab is a critical part in helping to build the infrastructure of the healthcare system in Liberia to improve patient care for the entire country.
Set-Up & Training in the New Laboratory
The instruments for the lab were older and weathered so some troubleshooting and maintenance was required to get them on-line. H&E staining is done by hand in Liberia. Currently, the laboratory does not produce enough samples to justify having a high throughput automated H&E stainer. Using an automated stainer at this stage would lead to a waste of consumables that are difficult to secure in Liberia. As a result, reagents are precious. In addition, should the stainer have any issues it would be difficult for an engineer to come and repair the instrument.
How Can You Support the New Lab?
Donations can be submitted directly to Rainbow Hospital under the care of Dr. Benedict Kolee. If you are interested in donating, please contact David Davis via email at email@example.com.
(1) Gaber, Adam. Years of Impact: Liberia Adopts Yale Capstone Student Recommendations for National Medical Education Reform
. April 30 2018.
Written by: Pamela Vizcarra, HTL(ASCP), QIHC (ASCP)