An Open Letter from a Pathologist to our Minister for Medical Services

Prof Anyang' Nyongo,

Bwana Minister, as you would so painfully be aware, the definitive diagnosis of any cancer relies on evaluation of biopsy specimens. However, I do not know whether you are aware that outside the Major Public Referral Hospitals (KNH and MTRH), Public Hospital Labs are not capable of processing and analysing tissue biopsies to render the diagnosis. Instead, the majority of patients who are poor have to send their biopsies to Private Labs.

How many times have patients remained in the wards with no diagnosis on the cancer that's eating them away since they are not able to afford the cost of histopathology in Private Labs? How many times have I seen patients flush biopsies down the toilet since the cost of processing them is beyond their reach? And how many times have the few patients who've managed to send the biopsies to Private Labs have their specimens rejected or biopsies not rendered since our hospitals lack formalin?

More times than I care to remember Bwana Minister! Lucky are you who are able to go to San Fransisco to enjoy such privileges and land back in the country after diagnosis and treatment only to give lip service to the direction of cancer management in the country!

Ask yourself, as a privileged patient who understands the ravages that cancer wreaks what you have done to help the poor Kenyan cancer patients who depend on your Ministry for Healthcare.

Let us have functioning Public Hospital Labs with equipment and reagents, not peremende talk from you. Let our practice of Pathology not be limited to Post-Mortems but to helping rid out nation of this scourge.

#cancersucks #peremendemovement

Yours sincerely,

Kenyan Pathologist.

By Dr. Julio Etabalé

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