Pathologists Overseas was founded in 1991 with the mission to help develop or improve affordable, sustainable pathology and clinical laboratory services in developing countries through the efforts of volunteer pathologists, technologists and laboratory scientists.
Pathologists Overseas has organized and funded projects in Kenya, Eritrea, Nepal, Madagascar, Bhutan, Peru and St. Lucia. The projects included the incorporation of new laboratory information system technologies, initiating quality control programs, upgrading laboratory facilities, providing textbooks and training materials, developing medical student, physician, and laboratory technologist training programs, and facilitating placement of native physicians in overseas pathology fellowship training programs.
Although each setting was unique there were themes common to all of them, e.g., supply chain and quality assurance problems were ubiquitous. We found that health care issues in developing countries were ultimately multi-factorial and could not be resolved in a compartmentalized manner. Further, upgrading clinical laboratories often led to identification of clinical management issues (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, etc.) which were difficult to ignore, and identification of these issues led to the need for further upgrading of diagnostic capabilities. Lastly, while medical manpower problems were often able to be resolved in country if there was suitable organization and management, interim staffing by rotating volunteers was always needed to get the projects off the ground.
Building on this knowledge base, Pathologists Overseas has continued work in various countries in Africa and the Caribbean to develop external quality assurance (EQA) capabilities and install Laboratory Information System infrastructure. Our EQA programs have routinely doubled the fraction of high quality results in most labs, and the laboratory information systems routinely cut the transcription errors by over 70%.