How AI is Transforming Pathology in Developing Countries | Digital Pathology in Pakistan With Talat Zehra

HOW AI IS TRANSFORMING PATHOLOGY IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES | DIGITAL PATHOLOGY IN PAKISTAN W/ TALAT ZEHRA

Introduction

What role does digital pathology play in addressing global healthcare inequalities? Dr. Zehra’s journey in Pakistan sheds light on this vital question.
Dr. Talat Zehra, a distinguished pathologist from Karachi, Pakistan, shares her extraordinary journey of embracing digital pathology, highlighting its potential in revolutionizing healthcare in under-researched regions. This article delves into her pioneering work, overcoming infrastructural challenges, and setting new standards in pathology practice.

Early Struggles and Transition

Initially practicing traditional histopathology, Dr. Zehra faced challenges heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Her innovative spirit led her to join the Digital Pathology Association in early 2020, where she learned about whole slide imaging (WSI), computational pathology, and deep learning models. This marked the beginning of her digital transition, fueled by a nationwide survey to raise digital pathology awareness among Pakistani pathologists.

Adopting Digital Pathology

Dr. Zehra began her digital journey with a basic microscope equipped with an inbuilt camera, taking static images for telepathology and educational purposes. Despite lacking a scanner, she persisted in exploring AI applications on these images. Collaborating with vendors like Aiforia, she learned to annotate images and apply algorithms, leading to three published projects in peer-reviewed journals.

Overcoming Equipment Limitations

Faced with the absence of a scanner, Dr. Zehra adapted by utilizing digital images for AI analysis. She worked with various software, including Aiforia and Mindpeak, to apply AI on digital images for breast cancer quantification studies, demonstrating the feasibility of digital pathology in low-resource settings.

Educational Initiatives

Dr. Zehra emphasized education in digital pathology, using her resources for teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Her work has played a crucial role in bridging the gap between traditional and digital methods in Pakistan’s pathology education.

Innovations in Research

Her research projects, focused on applying AI to pathology, have set new benchmarks in the field. Dr. Zehra has conducted over ten projects using digital images and AI, with a majority published, showcasing the practical application of digital pathology in developing countries.

Global Healthcare Impact

Dr. Zehra’s endeavors extend beyond national borders, influencing global healthcare practices. She discusses the challenges of pathology in low-resource settings and how digital pathology can mitigate these issues, such as improving diagnosis speed and accuracy, facilitating remote consultations, and enhancing educational resources.

Future Perspectives

Despite her achievements, Dr. Zehra acknowledges ongoing challenges in fully integrating digital pathology. She envisions a future where digital tools are more widely accepted and utilized, helping to overcome existing healthcare disparities, especially in developing countries like Pakistan.

Conclusion

Dr. Talat Zehra’s journey in digital pathology is a testament to the transformative power of technology and innovation in healthcare. Her work not only advances pathology practices in Pakistan but also inspires a global shift towards more efficient and accessible healthcare solutions.

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