“Why, then, does the state of pathology services in sub-Saharan Africa seem to be worse nowadays than it was 50 years ago? […] Comprehensive strategies to change perceptions and policies, both in governments and in institutions, are needed to correct these misconceptions, improve recruitment and retention of pathologists, and increase demand for pathology services.”
In the coming decades, cancer will be a major clinical and public health issue in sub-Saharan Africa. However, clinical and public health infrastructure and services in many countries are not positioned to deal with the growing cancer burden. Pathology is a core service required to serve many needs related to cancer in sub-Saharan Africa. Cancer diagnosis, treatment, and research all depend on adequate pathology. Pathology is also necessary for cancer registration, which is needed to accurately estimate cancer incidence and mortality. Cancer registry data directly guide policy-makers’ decisions for cancer control and the allocation of clinical and public health services. Despite the centrality of pathology in many components of cancer care and control, countries in sub-Saharan Africa have at best a tenth of the pathology coverage of that in high-income countries. Equipment, processes, and services are lacking, and there is a need for quality assurance for the definition and implementation of high-quality, accurate diagnosis. Training and advocacy for pathology are also needed. We propose approaches to improve the status of pathology in sub-Saharan Africa to address the needs of patients with cancer and other diseases.