MEDICS are warming up to a new telepathology technology brought in at the Rwanda Military Hospital (RMH), Kanombe, saying it will make cancer diagnosis faster and easier.
The tech enables the medics to carry out pathology at a distance using telecommunications technology to facilitate the transfer of image-rich pathological data for diagnosis, education, and research.
The system, named “OMNYX tm VL4,” consists of an indoor scanner, cameras, a microscope, and computers.
It scans and displays a patient’s results on a computer monitor and the images can be shared online with other medics within RMH, other hospitals in the country or in other parts of the world for examination of the nature of illness and how it can be handled.
“Testing and treating cancer is a big challenge globally, and here in Rwanda, we have a specific challenge of not having many specialised doctors in both testing and treatment of the disease. So, this new system comes as a way of helping us to test and diagnose cancer faster as we communicate among us so that we can be able to administer immediate treatment that will give patients more chances to recover,” said Lt Col Fabien Ntaganda, the head of laboratory services at RMH.
RMH has already established a partnership with the American Society of Clinical Pathologists based in Boston, where 15 American doctors volunteered to work with the hospital, receiving the images and responding within 24 hours.
The new technology is capable of testing all types of cancers both in children and adults, and the doctors will be able to provide the diagnosis and a therapeutic decision within five days as opposed to the two weeks it has been taking.
“In the new system the images appear on a computer screen and the doctors will not have to strain themselves looking into the microscope,” Ntaganda said.
Acquired with support from the US under President Obama’s programme of helping African countries in easing cancer treatment, the system is only the second in Africa.
The first on the continent, too, is in Rwanda at Butaro Hospital and it was installed in May 2016.
Uganda and Tanzania are currently working on rolling out the technology.
Working with a trainer from US, RMH has trained 14 local cancer pathologists to use the technology (six from RMH, three from King Faisal Hospital, Kigali, and five from Central University Teaching Hospital of Kigali).
Dr Emile Karinganire, a pathologist at RMH, said the system will keep medics up-to-date with medical knowledge as they will be sharing information.
He added that it will also be of great importance to pathology students who come for training at the hospital since they will be able to access rich information using the system.
The cancer tests will still be carried out on the usual means of payment, including the Mituelle system.