Assisting cytopathology training in medically under-resourced countries: Defining the problems and establishing solutions
Cytology is able to deliver rapid accurate diagnoses with minimal equipment and laboratory infrastructure at minimal cost, and this is especially so for fine needle biopsy (FNB), which is a powerful diagnostic tool in medically resource-poor environments, where histopathology laboratories are small in number and poorly supported financially. The crucial element in the development of cytology services is to train a sufficient number of well trained cytopathologists and cytotechnologists to create a critical mass of personnel who not only provide routine diagnostic services, but also can train an ever expanding number of pathologists, cytotechnologists, and health workers. A review of practical programs to train cytopathologists and cytotechnologists in their own countries will be presented, including a recent series of FNB and cytology tutorials run in sub Saharan Africa. The need for local cytopathology programs and the potential for both local and visiting cytopathologists to provide a faculty will be discussed, as well as a range of possible programs which can bring African pathologists and trainee pathologists to Western institutions for periods of their training. Ideally, the regional Societies of Cytology, including the recently formed West African Society of Cytology, will establish their own diagnostic protocols, training programs, syllabuses, examinations and accreditation and career pathways for both cytopathologists and cytotechnologists, and organize tutorials where they will invite overseas faculty to contribute. Crucially, these new societies will empower cytopathologists and cytotechnologists to approach health services and governments to state the need for cytology services as a cost-effective accurate diagnostic service that enhances Patient care.