Document Type



Pathology (East Africa)


Purpose: Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) cytology is a simple, inexpensive, and accurate diagnostic test for benign, infectious, and malignant lesions of the breast, thyroid, lymph nodes, and other organs. Similarly, bone marrow aspiration and trephine (BMAT) biopsy procedures are relatively simple and inexpensive techniques that are important for diagnosing and monitoring many hematologic diseases including leukemias and lymphomas. However, the scarcity of pathologists in Kenya limits patient access to these simple diagnostic tests. We describe a task sharing and shifting program that sought to improve the provision of FNABs and BMAT biopsies in tertiary public hospitals in Kenya.

Methods: Between January 2016 and February 2017, we trained pathologists, pathology residents, and technologists from the University of Nairobi and Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, in FNAB and BMAT biopsies, who in turn trained pathologists, medical officers (MO), clinical officers (CO), and technologists at five tertiary public hospitals. The program involved curriculum development, training workshops, the establishment of new and strengthening existing FNAB and BMAT biopsy clinics, interim site visits, audits, and stakeholder workshops.

Results: Fifty-one medical personnel at the tertiary hospitals were trained. The FNAB numbers increased by 41% to 1,681, with 139 malignant diagnoses (7.1%). BMAT biopsy numbers increased by 268% to 140, with 34 malignant cases. Between 60% and 100% of the FNAB and BMAT biopsy procedures were performed by MO and CO over the project period. One new FNAB and two new BMAT biopsy clinics were established.

Conclusion: This project demonstrates a successful model of task sharing and shifting from specialist pathologists to MO and CO that improved access to important FNAB and BMAT biopsy services in a low-resource setting.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Global Oncology

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Pathology Commons