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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

Wayde, Karla crowned as KovsieSport’s best
2015-10-21

 

The pride of KovsieSport. From the left, are: Ox Nche
(UFS Junior Sportman of the Year), Karla Mostert
(Senior Sportswoman of the Year), Wayde van Niekerk
(Senior Sportsman of the Year), and Brett Walraven
(on behalf of his sister, Nicole Walraven – Junior Sportswoman of the Year).
Photo: Hannes Naude

The journey does not belong to him alone, but to everyone at KovsieSport.

These were the words of University of the Free State’s (UFS) Wayde van Niekerk, after being named as KovsieSport’s Senior Sportsman of the Year on Wednesday 21 October 2015.

The South African sports star walked away with the award for the third consecutive year, while the Protea netball defender, Karla Mostert, was crowned Senior Sportswoman for the first time.

The Junior Bok, Ox Nche, and the Protea hockey player, Nicole Walraven, were named as Junior Sportsman and Junior Sportswoman of the Year respectively.

Nche represented South Africa’s U20 rugby team this year at the Junior World Championships, played for the Shimlas, and was named the UFS Rugby Club’s best junior player.

Walraven made her debut for South Africa in 2015. She was crowned jointly as the best player at the Provincial U21 tournament, and was also Hockey South Africa’s U21 Player of the Year.

Van Niekerk won gold in the 400 metres at the World Championships in Beijing, becoming only the fourth athlete in history to run the 400 m in less than 44 seconds, and the 200 metres in less than 20 seconds.

“This is precious, and something I will cherish as an athlete: being part of KovsieSport,” he said.

“I arrived at the UFS as a high school boy, started as a junior, and was accepted immediately.”

“I really appreciate everybody who played such a huge part in my life.”

Mostert was named as Player of the Series in the Brutal Fruit series, as well as the Varsity series this year. She was also a star for the Proteas at the World Cup.

“This (the award) is definitely a good way to end my time at Kovsies. This is something one is trying to achieve for years, so it really is a highlight.”

She said it was difficult to describe how much KovsieSport is doing for its athletes, and this was the reason why the UFS achieves so many successes in sport.


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