Improving pathology and laboratory medicine in low-income and middle-income countries: roadmap to solutions

Shahin Sayed, William Cherniak, Mark Lawler, Soo Yong Tan, Wafaa El Sadr, Nicholas Wolf, Shannon Silkensen, Nathan Brand, Lai Meng Looi, Sanjay A. Pai, Michael L. Wilson, Danny Milner, John Flanigan, Kenneth A. Fleming

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)


Insufficient awareness of the centrality of pathology and laboratory medicine (PALM) to a functioning health-care system at policy and governmental level, with the resultant inadequate investment, has meant that efforts to enhance PALM in low-income and middle-income countries have been local, fragmented, and mostly unsustainable. Responding to the four major barriers in PALM service delivery that were identified in the first paper of this Series (workforce, infrastructure, education and training, and quality assurance), this second paper identifies potential solutions that can be applied in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). Increasing and retaining a quality PALM workforce requires access to mentorship and continuing professional development, task sharing, and the development of short-term visitor programmes. Opportunities to enhance the training of pathologists and allied PALM personnel by increasing and improving education provision must be explored and implemented. PALM infrastructure must be strengthened by addressing supply chain barriers, and ensuring laboratory information systems are in place. New technologies, including telepathology and point-of-care testing, can have a substantial role in PALM service delivery, if used appropriately. We emphasise the crucial importance of maintaining PALM quality and posit that all laboratories in LMICs should participate in quality assurance and accreditation programmes. A potential role for public-private partnerships in filling PALM services gaps should also be investigated. Finally, to deliver these solutions and ensure equitable access to essential services in LMICs, we propose a PALM package focused on these countries, integrated within a nationally tiered laboratory system, as part of an overarching national laboratory strategic plan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1939-1952
Number of pages14
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number10133
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2018


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