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Providing Pathology Solutions to Deprived Areas Around the World

Most students and clinicians learn microbiology with the proper equipment: microscopes. However, in deprived countries front-line health facilities have to refer patients elsewhere because they do not have a microscope to enable diagnosis. Research is inhibited because of lack of equipment, students never get the opportunity to use real microscopes during their studies, and participation in science and particularly microbiology is very low.

On the bright side, there are untapped resources that can help these students. In labs around the world there are huge numbers of retired microscopes hidden away or in storage. They are in perfect working condition but are not being used, having been replaced with newer equipment. X-WOW is working to get these ‘retired microscopes’ back to school in deprived countries where they are desperately needed.

X-WOW are re-distributing ‘retired microscopes’ to applicants who can justify the need for a microscope in their setting through a panel reviewed application process.

These are some of the teams and individuals known to X-WOW where a microscope, which we would consider redundant, could make a huge difference.

Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM)

CHAM is a Church-owned health, not-for-profit entity operated by members of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) and the Malawi Council of Churches (MCC). Microscopes are used for two main reasons in the laboratories:

  1. In the diagnosis of severe Malaria cases for Malaria parasite density, species identification and assessment of treatment progress. Malaria is the second biggest killer of children under 5 in Malawi. The absence of microscopes in rural community hospitals prevents prompt and effective management of severe Malaria because local health centres cannot test to diagnose and therefore have to refer the patient on to a further district hospital.
  2. For TB microscopy which determines presence of Tubercle bacilli in pulmonary TB cases suspects. Pulmonary TB has potential of being spread in crowded and poor ventilated areas – so prompt diagnosis is essential in reducing subsequent cases. CHAM facilities that have no microscope also struggle to diagnose TB.
Olaniyi Owoeye, Nigerian Haematologist

Olaniyi practices at the University Teaching Hospital in Ilorin, Nigeria.

“Microscopes, even teaching microscopes, are grossly limited and the few that are available are limited and often prone to damages due to overuse wear and tear.

In my unit, since the beginning of 2016, specialists and trainee fellows have been limited to only one functional simple microscope which we have had to share week-in, week-out since then! The challenge that this poses to proper training at all levels cannot be overemphasised.”

Blessing Oyeleye, Nigerian Veterinary Medicine Student

Blessing Oyeleye

“I asked questions as to why people that I loved died, and I realised that micro-organisms led to abnormalities that eventually caused their death, so as a child I resolved to study micro-organisms deeply in order to help society because if there were people who are deeply knowledgeable in microbiology and pathology these deaths could have been prevented and pain avoided.

Looking around my immediate environment, it became obvious that many kids and colleagues are hindered in their scientific and professional studies due to the lingering absence of a microscope. I have always been looking for a way to solve this problem but the cost of procuring a microscope is not within the means your average person.

With group and personal testimonies such as these it is not surprising that Zimbabwe, for example, was reported to have only nine working pathologists, five histopathologists, four haematologists, and no chemical or forensic pathologists for a population of 13 million in 2016.

Having worked in the medical device field for many years, and having seen inside many labs, Matthew Holland has recognised the potential of the X-WOW project and he asks, ‘why let the un-used equipment in your organisation go to waste?’

Get involved

Your retired laboratory equipment could make a huge difference to diagnosis and patient outcomes and capacity for training and research in microbiology in places with severe need.

If you, or your place of work, have a retired microscope, or other equipment taking up space which could be donated to a resource limited lab or medical school, X-WOW would love to hear from you: contact them with the details and pictures via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @X_WowCom.


Yuchun Ding is Research Associate in Digital Pathology, Newcastle University. He will be speaking at the 6th Digital Pathology & AI Congress: Europe on using modern technologies to diagnose cancer in children in Malawi remotely.


Join us at the 6th Digital Pathology & AI Congress: Europe to explore the adoption and integration of digital pathology and the the latest developments in automated image analysis. Download the agenda here.

One Response to “Providing Pathology Solutions to Deprived Areas Around the World”

  1. I am a graduate of veterinary medicine from usmanu danfodiyo university sokoto, Nigeria. I presently work with national veterinary research institute vom, plateau state, at one of it zonal investigative laboratory in kano state Nigeria. As I am talking to you now, I don’t have access to my office any more to carry out my task due to indecent flood that do occupy the office area during the raining seasons like this. The main objectives of the zonal laboratory was to bring the services of the national veterinary research institute closer to people must especially in the rural area but reverse is the case now. The headquarter is operating good and fine at any given time but almost all the zonal and branch laboratory are in a dilapidated stage. In the whole kano state today in Nigeria, there is not functional animal diagnostic laboratory, a state with a population of more than twenty million people. According to WHO report, about 65-70% of the emerging and reemerging zonootic diseases originated from animal but in Nigeria, animal husbandry is the most neglected area in terms of disease control, diagnosis, treatment and prevention and that relent to major reasons why Africa region always a rigorous regions for disease control. I find this avenue as one of the favorite place where best initiations concerning health is happening and a very supportive in helping a developing country in meeting up for at least the little standards when it come to disease diagnosis and health surveillance in general. We thereby anticipate for such gesture if possible to zanal investigative laboratory kano with equipment and facilities to prompt the main objectives of the laboratory to the populace. Thanks in anticipation to global engage. Look forward to hear from you.


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