27 February 2013

Tanzania: Plans Afoot to Address Snags in Lab Services Industry

NEW legislative measures are underway to address snags currently existing in laboratory services industry as well as general conducts of lab professionals and chemists in the country.

Chief Government Chemist, Prof. Samwel Manyele said that the laboratory services in the country face a number of challenges that need special strategies to address. Prof Manyele said this while addressing the forum which met to discuss the formation of the National Laboratory Association, adding that inadequate competence of laboratory staff is one of the challenges in need of immediate solutions.

He mentioned other challenges as lack of comparability of tests, problems in service and maintenance of lab equipment and lack of cooperation and resources sharing among laboratories. He said the formation of the National Lab Association was crucial in addressing the challenges as well as putting together efforts made by different individual labs to address them.

"The importance of having the National Laboratory Association will ensure quality laboratory results that will contribute adequately in protecting people's health, safety, environment, support trade and enhance economic growth," he said. Prof Manyele said while a new Act is expected, the National Lab Association will be expected to play a role in sharing skills, knowledge, exchanging of information and providing consumers with added confidence on lab services.

He underlined on the need for the country to regulate laboratories and lab professionals to make sure they provide services in line with best practices recognized internationally. The issue of funding in facilitating lab services is another daunting task awaiting the association whose draft will be discussed by members who met on Tuesday.

Opening the workshop, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) Acting Director General, Mr Leandri Kinabo, said ensuring quality in analytical measurement is a significant challenge in all testing laboratories in the country. He said the country's effort to form its National Lab Association follows the footsteps of some SADC and EAC countries that formed their associations since 2009.

"It is vivid that if the association becomes full-fledged, members will give valuable contributions to the country's economy," he said in a speech read on his behalf by the TBS Director of Quality Management, Ms Kezia Mbwambo.

The draft constitution proposes for the association to facilitate the implementation of appropriate local, regional and international standards useful to the lab community in the country. Members of the association come from the mining and agriculture sectors, regulatory testing and calibration, medical laboratories, industrial, tertiary and research institutes' laboratories and associate suppliers of goods, among others.

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