Senegal: equipping and developing the first dermatopathology laboratory

Prof. Moussa Diallo, head of the dermatopathology laboratory in the Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and Odontology at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, with part of his team. Credits: FMPO


Dermatopathology is the study and diagnosis of skin diseases at microscopic and molecular level. Until now, Senegal did not have such a laboratory, which is also one of the few in the sub-region.

The partnership initiated in 2018 between the Fondation Pierre Fabre and the Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and Odontology (FMPO) at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, which is hosting this new facility, aims first and foremost to improve access to high-quality dermatopathological diagnosis for the Senegalese population and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

For Professor Moussa Diallo, head of the Faculty’s dermatopathology laboratory, the new facility meets a fundamental need:

“Dermatologists need histological diagnoses to be able to treat patients. This is what the laboratory provides, and it is an essential tool for the hundred or so dermatologists in Senegal, and for those in neighbouring countries who can now send us their skin samples. Dermatologists working in public or private hospitals can take biopsies and send them to the laboratory for diagnosis.”

“The Foundation’s contribution has been fundamental and decisive in equipping the laboratory, acquiring technical equipment and financing essential reagents. We currently receive around a hundred samples a month, from Senegal of course, but also from Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Djibouti, Benin… The needs are immense, and not just in dermatology but in other disciplines, such as orthopaedic, general and paediatric surgery…”.

This is why the 2nd objective of the project is to train more student dermatologists and anatomopathology students in dermatopathology.

“The Foundation is funding grants to enable students to train, so that in the future there will be more specialists capable of analysing samples. This makes a real contribution to improving diagnosis and treatment in dermatology in Africa.”

Since the laboratory was set up, 10 students from Senegal, Mali and Cameroon have benefited from a 6-month training course, to prepare them for standard dermatopathology analyses and inspire those who wish to specialise in this field at a later date. Since the beginning of 2024, 3 students from the sub-region have been training for 6 months, thanks to grants from the Fondation Pierre Fabre.

“Finally, this laboratory has a scientific research vocation, because we can now carry out research work and produce scientific publications and communications. It’s a great step forward.”