Raising the Bar for Histotechnology in the Philippines

By Jomar Klee Z. Custodio, RMT, HTL(ASCPi)

Charter members of PSH

Despite the admirable resilience and strong workforce of the Filipino histotechnologists, thousands upon thousands of slides are wasted on recuts, hundreds upon hundreds of scientists are exposed to the evident risk of malpractice, multiple pathologists are forced to examine slides of meager quality, and in the end, patients continuously remain as victims of an incompetently educated and unprepared industry. Now, through the leadership of the Philippine Society of Histotechnology, a ray of hope enlightens a path of raising the bar and bringing standardization of histotechnology in the nation.

More than six (6) decades has passed since the emergence of the Medical Laboratory Science program in the Philippines. Since then, the field of histotechnology or more commonly known in the country as “histopathology” has been acknowledged as one of the major sciences in the medical laboratory science profession. Filipino histotechnologists however have experienced first hand, how day to day histotechnology in the Philippines has been left out in terms of international advancements. Furthermore, basic education on the theory and practice of histotechnology has become stagnant through the years, in favor of subjects in the clinical pathology counterparts.

Even though we consider histotechnologists, partnered with anatomic pathologists, as vital soldiers that combat the nation’s increasing mortality caused by undiagnosed cancer, our government undermines this significance. The subject of “histopathology” is essentially left almost a mere 5% relative weight out of 100% in our own board examination. This has caused Filipino working histotechnologists to decide based on instincts and depend on various professional associations for all the educational shortcomings and outdated knowledge. Unfortunately, these cries for support continue to be unheard.

With the least priority given to histotechnology education, those who become professional histotechnologists are forced to fend of the thriving problems by their own hands. To ultimately resist this burgeoning trend, the Philippine Society for Histotechnology (PSH) was materialized. PSH, gaining inspiration from the valiant and noble efforts of international histotechnology bodies such as the National Society for Histotechnology (NSH), manifested while upholding the mission of bringing the nation on par with worldwide standards of excellence in histotechnology and histotechnologist empowerment.

"PSH’s humble beginnings started with the first phase of establishing a network line of communication between Filipino histotechnologists, accomplished through personal connections and the power of social media networking."

As the connections grew, Filipino histotechnologists emerged from all sectors of the private to public, to free standing and hospital-based laboratories, to seek guidance and share their common concerns. This successful build up pushed us to the next phase of holding PSH's first general assembly where we finally had a chance to personally meet each other, finalized our platforms of movement, and gave each other the support we so desperately needed. This gathering gave us an opportunity to share our insights and personal experiences, and through this we realized the growing depth of setbacks in the field and how PSH as an organization can elucidate this matter.

Continuously growing in numbers, PSH yearned for leadership, which led to the second general assembly where even more members joined for the integration of our organization’s constitution and bylaws, and the election of the official Board of Directors. This resulted to PSH currently possessing its pioneer leaders that augment and motivate both the passion and the dedication of each member so that we can together translate our vision to reality. Now, like a speeding bullet, our minds are focused as we plan on our future endeavors, partnerships, and programs.

Entrusted by PSH to lead the organization, I call upon the international histotechnology bodies and communities that could support our cause and share our mission. I also call upon all my fellow Filipino histotechnologists to voice out, as we live to serve one purpose, our hearts are instantaneously connected as our fates intertwine. Let us unite as one, for it is our duty and responsibility to save lives, one slide at a time.

Learn more about the Philippine Society for Histotechnology.

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