Lessons from the Field

Addressing the shortage of pathologists in Africa: Creation of a MMed Programme in Pathology in Zambia

Victor Mudenda, Evans Malyangu, Shahin Sayed, Kenneth Fleming
African Journal of Laboratory Medicine | Vol 9, No 1 | a974 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajlm.v9i1.974 | © 2020 Victor Mudenda, Evans Malyangu, Shahin Sayed, Kenneth Fleming | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 January 2019 | Published: 03 June 2020

About the author(s)

Victor Mudenda, Department of Pathology and Microbiology, University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia
Evans Malyangu, Department of Pathology, Maina Soko Military Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia
Shahin Sayed, Department of Pathology, Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya
Kenneth Fleming, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

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Background: With approximately one pathologist for one million people compared to ratios of approximately 1 to 25 000 in the United States and United Kingdom, there is a severe shortage of pathologists in much of Africa. The situation is particularly severe in Zambia, where, in 2009, the ratio was 1 to 1.4 million.

Objective: To address this, a postgraduate Master of Medicine (MMed) training programme was launched in Lusaka in 2011.

Methods: The process and most significant challenges and lessons learned were documented, as they may be of value to other countries facing similar challenges.

Results: Since 2011, four Zambian pathologists have graduated, doubling the number of indigenous pathologists in the country. Currently 10 students are in training. The most significant problem was issues arising from the split responsibilities of the Ministries of Health and of Education and the most important lesson learned was the crucial need for broad local ownership and commitment.

Conclusion: Successfully addressing the shortage of local pathologists by creating country-specific, postgraduate MMed training programmes, even in situations of restricted resources, is feasible. However, having access to and support from the shared resources, expertise and knowledge of a regional College of Pathologists would be a major advantage.


pathologist shortage; Africa; Postgraduate MMed; Zambia; College of Pathologists of East Central and Southern Africa (COPECSA)


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Crossref Citations

1. Establishing the College of Pathologists of East, Central and Southern Africa – The Regional East Central and Southern Africa College of Pathology
Shahin Sayed, Rudo Mutasa, Ephata Kaaya, Victor Mudenda, Erasmus Rajiv, Edda Vuhahula, Jamilla Rajab, Robert Lukande, Edwin Walong, Angela Mutuku, Kenneth Fleming
African Journal of Laboratory Medicine  vol: 9  issue: 1  year: 2020  
doi: 10.4102/ajlm.v9i1.979