JFK Opens First Modern Pathology Lab

NSH's histology traveler, Dave Davis, is once again working on a project abroad; this time in Monrovia, the capital city of the West African country, Liberia. He sent us the following article, published in the Monrovia newspaper, The Daily Observer.

Histologist David Davis demonstrates to lab technician, the use of the equipment

Hannah N. Geterminah and Simeon S. Wiakanty

John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFKMC), with support from the Mount Sinai Hospital in the United States, Global Women’s Health and partners, on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, officially opened a modern and sophisticated Pathology Laboratory facility in Monrovia.

According to authorities at JFKMC, the facility is worth more than US$250,000.

The Chief Executive Officer of JFKMC, Dr. Jerry F. Brown, said that “the facility, which is the first of its kind, will help Liberian pathologists address pathological problems in the health sector.”

Dr. Brown said there were medical problems that could not previously be addressed by Liberian doctors only because of the absence of a pathology laboratory in the country but, with the official opening of the modern lab, they can do diagnoses and autopsies.

He said the laboratory will help pathologists do a proper diagnosis of the problem before commencing with the proper treatment.

Dr. Brown told the gathering that once JFKMC can meet the medical needs of Liberians, it will save the lives of many people.

“The JFKMC Official pinpointed that the laboratory will help cancer patients get a diagnosis of cancer which will subsequently help in the application of the proper cancer medication for possible recovery,” he said. Dr. Brown is confident that the cost of diagnosis at the JFK Pathology Laboratory will be affordable, depending on the number of tissues that will be diagnosed.

One of the technicians demonstrates equipment in the Pathology Lab at the JFK Medical Center in Monrovia.

He expressed gratitude to partners for the implementation of the project, adding that authorities of the hospital will collaborate with national and international partners in the maintenance of the facility.

“Many of the materials we used to do the testing are not found in Liberia,” he said. “As such, we will continue to engage our partners to ensure that we have more reagent for about three to six months to carry us thus far.” Dr. Brown added that, within the next three months, authorities of JFKMC will start to plan on how to replenish the pathology lab as they generate funds. He said, “the lab will also help where people raise suspicions about tissues that may be a contributing factor to a person’s death.”

“We are also working to improve the entire pathology lab at our facilities so that we can do a credible autopsy here and come up with good reports at international standards in terms of finding the cause of deaths as well,” Dr. Brown said. Dr. Brown promised to work with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to see how they can have the autopsy system improved.


“One of the challenges ahead of us here now,” Dr. Brown said, “is that people will be tested at the facility and at the end, they may not want to pay. We know that is going to be a serious problem, but what we are going to do is that we will try to keep enough reagent by using the funds generated from the lab to service the machine. We also established a service contract with those who brought in the machine so they can do a periodic service.”

He said the JFK authorities will work with the relevant institutions that supply the reagent and to ensure that they get supplies at least quarterly instead of waiting for it to be exhausted before getting another supply.

Dr. Zoebon Kpateh (left), a Liberian pathologist, explains the process involved in completing a diagnosis in the pathology lab.

Dr. Ann Marie Beddoe, Director of Global Women’s Health, Mount Sinai Hospital in the United States, thanked the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP), led by Dr. Dan Milner, who generously funded the project. She said Histologist, David Davis, facilitated the training of the Liberian lab technicians.

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