AN investigation on the National Health Laboratory at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), has established several shortfalls, ranging from the equipment to the management.
Delivering the findings of the probe carried out by a special committee in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, said one of the machines at the laboratory was faulty but the management did not take any measures.
The report, according to the minister, also revealed some shortfalls in the management and the technical operations in testing, authentication of the quality of test results and poor preservation of Covid-19 tests.
The minister also said the committee uncovered a shortage of qualified personnel in the area of biotechnology and molecular biology in the health sector, especially at the National Health Laboratory.
Following the pitfalls noted at the National Health Laboratory at NIMR, testing of Covid-19 samples will now be carried out at the government laboratory at Mabibo area in Dar es Salaam.
"With effect from today, all activities related to testing of samples that were being carried out at the National Health Laboratory will now be carried out at the new laboratory with modern and quality equipment capable of testing 1,800 samples in 24 hours, " Mwalimu insisted.
She said the national laboratory that was found to have some shortfalls at NIMR had the capacity to test 300 samples in 24 hours. The laboratory was established in 1968.
"As we speak, testing of Covid-19 has been shifted to the new laboratory at Mabibo which, from now on, will be the National Health Laboratory," she said.
She added that the new laboratory at Mabibo, whose construction was completed this month, has adequate infrastructure. It has the capacity to produce reliable results and with quick.
In addition, the ministry has prepared individuals who command expertise and experience for the laboratory and has started to streamline the administrative system, functions and professionalism for the national laboratory.
Minister Mwalimu formed a committee of experts which formally started operating on May 6, 2020 to investigate the operations of the national laboratory, among the key aspects being to assess the system of collecting and testing Covid-19 samples.
The committee's formation was prompted by the doubts that President John Magufuli raised over the authenticity of Covid-19 tests.