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13 May 2019 | Story Zama Feni | Photo Charl Devenish
Dr Quinton Meyer and Marlena Visagie
National Control Laboratory Deputy Director, Dr Quinton Meyer (right), and Marlena Visagie, Quality Assurance Manager, at the laboratory within their facilities at the University of the Free State.

The University of the Free State-based National Control Laboratory for Biological Products (NCL) has maintained its esteemed status as a pharmaceutical testing laboratory after the South African Accreditation System (SANAS) further endorsed its quality-management systems as of high standard according to the International Standards Organisation’s requirements.

The Director of the NCL, Professor Derek Litthauer, said their laboratory – which is also approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – has again achieved the international testing standards. The cherry on top was that the NCL also received a certificate of Good Manufacturing Compliance (GMP) from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). 

NCL is for Africa and the World 

Some of the factors that make the NCL an esteemed institution, is the fact that it is one of 12 laboratories worldwide to perform vaccine testing for the WHO; the NCL is the only vaccine-testing laboratory in the country that performs the final quality-control testing of all human vaccine batches marketed in South Africa on behalf of SAHPRA. 

For example, Prof Litthauer said that the influenza vaccine batches currently available on the South African market, were tested by the NCL for quality before authorising their release for sale to the public. This process is followed for all human vaccines used in SA.

 “In our role as vaccine-testing laboratory for the WHO, the NCL helps to ensure that the vaccines purchased through the WHO prequalification programme for international distribution to resource-limited countries, meet the high standards of quality, safety, and efficiency. 
The NCL was one of the first full members of the WHO NCL Network for Biologicals, which consists of full and associate members of regulatory authorities from more than 30 countries.

The NCL systems are world-class

Prof Litthauer said this achievement is recognition that their laboratory complies with specific international standards with respect to its quality-management system. 
“In practice, it means that the laboratory has all the quality systems in place to ensure high-quality test results. The GMP certification is a further step, meaning that laboratory testing is on the expected level for any pharmaceutical testing laboratory and manufacturer. It is a very strict certification.”

He further mentioned that the NCL is also licensed as a pharmaceutical manufacturer. “Although we do not manufacture, we have to comply with manufacturing standards.”
“It is rare for a pharmaceutical testing laboratory (such as the NCL) outside of a manufacturing context to qualify for both certifications. It means that the NCL complies with exceptionally strict standards for pharmaceutical labs anywhere in the world,” he said.
The certification provides the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, the World Health Organisation, and other national control laboratories around the world, with the confidence that the test results from the NCL can be trusted.


There can be no compromise for quality 

The NCL Quality Assurance Manager, Mrs Marlena Visagie, said, “It is essential that the NCL complies with the highest international quality-assurance standards to ensure that all the lot-release operations, such as manufacturing review and quality testing, are performed in a reliable and reproducible manner.”

“There can be no compromise when it comes to the quality of medicines which are made available to the public,” she said.

“What makes this special, is that the NCL does not only comply with international ISO/IEC standards for pharmaceutical testing, but also with the additional GMP standards required by a pharmaceutical manufacturer. This means that the NCL must ensure that all its operations, including everything from the way documents are compiled and stored, to the maintenance of equipment and infrastructure as well as staff competency, are performed according to international guidelines.”

All NCL staff share vision of excellence

Prof Litthauer said the NCL has a staff complement of 15 technical, administrative, and support staff.  Four staff members have PhDs, and the rest of the technical staff have master’s or bachelor’s degrees or are trained as medical technologists. “At the moment, our biggest problem is to get enough suitable space to expand our testing,” he said.

Prof Litthauer said, “All the staff members at the NCL share the vision of excellence, which makes this kind of achievement possible.”
The NCL will host the third annual meeting of the WHO NCL Network in November of this year and will then be reassessed again by the WHO as part of the normal three-year cycle of assessments.  

News Archive

Graduates encouraged to use their knowledge to the benefit of SA
2017-06-28

Description: Graduation read more photo 27 June 2017 Tags: Graduation read more photo 27 June 2017

On 26 June 2017, the last day of its mid-year graduation
ceremonies, the University of the Free State conferred
388 master’s and 72 doctoral degrees.
Photo: Charl Devenish

You have the knowledge, which is a big resource, and should use it to the benefit of South Africa. This was the overwhelming message to graduates obtaining their master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Their responsibility was emphasised by the likes of Justice Mahube Molemela during the ceremonies in the Callie Human Centre at the Bloemfontein Campus on 26 June 2017. Justice Molemela, Judge President of the Free State Division of the High Court and Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of South Africa, was the guest speaker at the morning and afternoon ceremonies.

The UFS conferred 388 master’s and 72 doctoral degrees on the final day of its mid-year graduation ceremonies, which was the biggest set of ceremonies in the university’s history. The doctorates came from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (30), Faculty of the Humanities (15), Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (9), Faculty of Education (8), Faculty of Health Sciences (5), and Faculty of Theology (5). A total of 5 258 degrees were conferred over six days from 19 to 26 June 2017.

Future dependant on youth

Justice Molemela said the master’s and doctoral graduates have the skills to make a difference. “The future of a nation is largely dependent on its youth playing a meaningful role in creating a strong economy, culminating in a good standard of living for everyone.”

She said they should plough back into their communities and give opportunities to others. “I am certain that if each one of you thinks innovatively in your respective fields, you will find solutions which will eradicate poverty, improve service delivery, and hence our education will advance gender equity, and promote public participation.”

Dr Khotso Mokhele, UFS Chancellor, said these graduates have every reason to hold their heads high, their shoulders square, and walk with a bit of an attitude, as they have distinguished themselves.

Generation of new knowledge
According to Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, the UFS strives to be a university that is research led. “For me, one of the important aspects about universities which set them apart from other training and vocational institutions is the generation of new knowledge,” he said at a lunch function for PhD graduates on 26 June 2017. He feels it is critically important for them to make a contribution to the country.

Dipiloane Phutsisi, Principal and Chief Executive Officer of the Motheo TVET College in the Free State, also emphasised this. Phutsisi was the guest speaker on 23 June 2017. “Your courage and eagerness to face the future and tell the truth in the midst of this confusion, is highly desired by South Africans.”

Justice Ian van der Merwe, Judge of Appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeal and former Chair of the UFS Council, was the guest speaker at the ceremonies on 22 June 2017. He encouraged graduates from a chapter in the book War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth (according to Tolstoy). Or maybe more modernly translated: There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness, and truth are absent.”

Click here to see a list of Deans’ and Senate medals awarded.

Graduations ceremonies:

 

19 June 2017:

Faculty of Education, except educational qualifications in Open and Distance Learning – South Campus
Faculty of Health Sciences, Faculty of Theology, and Faculty of Law (including the School of Financial Planning Law)

Description: Bloem Campus Graduation 19 June 2017 Tags: Bloem Campus Graduation 19 June 2017

 

“Every one of us, is destined for greatness. In the words of Dr Martin Luther King: Everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.” – Dipiloane Phutsisi (Guest speaker and Principal and Chief Executive Officer of the Motheo TVET College in the Free State)

 
Photo Gallery
Livestream Footage (morning session)
Livestream Footage (afternoon session)

Photo: Charl Devenish



20 June 2017:

Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences: All Bachelor’s degrees
Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences: All Diplomas and Bachelor Honours degrees

 Description: Mid-year graduation day 2, Bloemfontein Campus Tags: Mid-year graduation day 2, Bloemfontein Campus

 

“Graduation marks a start of a new and wonderful journey. During the last couple of years you have not only developed your intellect, but also expanded what I call your social self,” - Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor

Speech: Prof Francis Petersen (morning)
Speech: Prof Francis Petersen (afternoon)
Photo Gallery

Livestream Footage (morning session)

Livestream Footage (afternoon session)

Photo: Charl Devenish



21 June 2017:

Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences: All certificates, diplomas, Bachelor’s degrees, and Bachelor Honours degrees, excluding BCom degrees
Faculty of the Humanities: Social Sciences and Communication Sciences only

 Description: Mid-year Graduation 21 June 2017 read more Tags: Mid-year Graduation 21 June 2017 read more

 
“Graduation is one of the most accomplished achievements one can ever experience.” – Justice Connie Mocumie (Guest speaker and Judge of Appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeal)

Photo Gallery
Livestream Footage (morning session)
Livestream Footage (afternoon session)

Photo: Charl Devenish

 

 



22 June 2017:

Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences: BCom degrees only
Faculty of the Humanities: All qualifications, except Social Sciences and Communication Sciences

 Description: Mid-year graduation read more for 22 June 2017 Tags: Mid-year graduation read more for 22 June 2017

 

“The question is not if you will make mistakes, but how do you deal with your mistakes? Do you admit them, do you learn from them, and do you grow as a person?” – Justice Ian van der Merwe (Guest speaker and Judge of Appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeal)

Photo Gallery
Livestream Footage (morning session)
Livestream Footage (afternoon session)

Photo: Johan Roux

 



23 June 2017:

Educational qualifications in Open and Distance Learning – South Campus

 Description: Mid-year graduation 23 June 2017 Tags: Mid-year graduation 23 June 2017

 

“Class of 2017, go and make your own unique contributions but remember to look into your own heart. South Africa needs your skills, your innovation, knowledge, your expertise and creativity.” – Dipiloane Phutsisi (Guest speaker and Principal and Chief Executive Officer of the Motheo TVET College in the Free State)



Photo Gallery

Livestream Footage (afternoon session)

Photo: Charl Devenish


 

26 June 2017:

All faculties: master’s and doctoral degrees

 Description: Graduation read more block 26 June 2017 Tags: Graduation read more block 26 June 2017

 

“Class of 2016/2017 graduates: You are critical thinkers, you can analyze, you can think independently. That is why you managed to successfully complete postgraduate degrees and diplomas.” – Justice Mahube Molemela (Judge President of the Free State Division of the High Court and Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of South Africa)


Photo Gallery
Livestream Footage (morning session)

Livestream Footage (afternoon session)

Photo: Charl Devenish


 

 

 

 

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