Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Years
2017 2018 2019 2020
Previous Archive
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

Prof Jonathan Jansen bids farewell to Kovsies
2016-08-31

 

Dear Kovsie staff and students

This is my final message to you all.

I wish to use this opportunity for some brief reflections, share a word of gratitude, and convey a sense of the future for our beloved university.

Since the announcement of my departure, I have had more than a dozen breakfasts with mainly students, but also staff, to offer an opportunity for the final sharing of thoughts and, of course, goodbyes. The most common questions asked at those breakfast sessions were the following, with my responses. I repeat them here, since these might also be of interest or concern to you.

What are your proudest achievements?
Two things. The increase in the academic standard for the UFS, both in terms of admission standards and pass rates, but also in relation to the requirements for appointment and promotion especially of professors. This is important because in a globally competitive world, a university stands or falls by the quality of its degrees. And for this you need the best students and the best professors.

What would you do differently, given another chance?
Nothing. I believe that leadership is about doing the best you can with the cards you are dealt in the circumstances in which you are placed. There is no point in second-guessing past decisions. I have always been ambitious as a leader, knowing that most of my goals would be met, and that some would not. That is normal in large and complex organisations, and so, I do not sit around pondering regrets, only remembering with gratitude the things we could achieve together.

What did you learn?
A lot. I learnt that our students have tremendous capacity for greatness both in their academic pursuits but also in their ability to live, and learn, and love together. I have learnt never to underestimate the capacity of our youth to excel in whatever they do. Sometimes I felt I was more ambitious for our students and staff, than they were for themselves. But I have constantly been surprised by the capacity of young students to rise above bitterness and division, and to make great our campus, country, and continent.

I learnt, again, that the overwhelming majority of our staff and students are good people, respectful of each other, and determined to work together to heal our broken past and build a more just society. And I learnt that it is much more fulfilling to build up than to break down, to embrace than to exclude, and to love than to hate.

Were you frustrated with the pace of transformation?
Sometimes, yes. But fortunately I studied educational organisations all my life, mainly schools and universities. Universities are called institutions for a reason, and on century-old sites like the historic Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State, there are core beliefs, values, and practices deeply ingrained in the culture of the place.

Anyone, therefore, who believes that transformation is easy, has obviously never tried to change an old university. It is difficult. You will get blowback. You will get bad press. You will, sadly, lose the support of some people. Some believe the university is changing too fast while others will tell you it is not changing fast enough. As you press for change, you find the university going two steps forward and one step back; in these circumstances, the solemn duty of the leader is simply to ensure that the overall momentum is always forward.

For such a time as this –
a commemorative journey:
2009-2016 (PDF book)

Description: Prof Jansen commemorative journey2 Tags: Prof Jansen commemorative journey

I therefore budget for disappointment even as I relish the many changes we have experienced together over the past seven years. If you want to obtain an objective sense of the scale of the changes at the UFS, ask those students and staff who were here in 2009, not those who came recently. They will tell you that we have a very different university, even though we all acknowledge that there is still some distance to travel. Our remarkable story of change is told in the recent Transformation Audit of the UFS, chaired by Prof Barney Pityana; that Audit Report will be released after it is read and studied by the University Council at its November meeting.

At an individual level, I learnt that most campus citizens change quickly and others more slowly, and that one has a duty to constantly push for change, but also to be patient about change. And I learnt that the ideal change retains the best of our past even as we embrace a more just and inclusive future in which all campus citizens feel that the university truly belongs to each and every one of them.

Are you optimistic about the future of our university?

Yes. The UFS is a very well-managed university thanks to the exceptional talent in the management of our finances, human resources and information technology environments. By the end of 2016, we will have record enrolments, from undergraduates to doctoral students, which is good for our future income. We run a tight ship with regard to the university’s finances, and we have greatly improved the academic standard of our qualifications; in this regard, I am very proud of my senior management team, and the talented middle management personnel, and those who make things work at the coalface of our operations.

I am very concerned, however, about future funding of the 26 public universities and the extremely vulnerable situation of at least 10 higher-education institutions. The economy is not growing and the costs of running a modern university are escalating. The delays in government commission reports on tuition fees do not help, and there seems no urgency ‘higher up’ to make the tough decisions.

We have to ensure free education for the poorest students — that is the position of your senior management – but we also need to guarantee the financial sustainability of our universities. The task of the UFS leadership, in this period of uncertainty, is to manage those two expectations as best we can. But this cannot happen without your assistance, and I do ask that you provide the new Rector and his or her team with the same understanding and support which I have enjoyed from you.

In conclusion
I am grateful.

To the many hundreds of students who have passed through my office and our home, and who sat in my many lectures and engaged me in your residences – thank you for enriching my sense of life and leadership. I am grateful that Grace and I could support and mentor many of you over the years and see you graduate. I am a better leader because of you.

To the staff of the three campuses – there is no university Rector, I can assure you, who enjoyed more love and support than what you offered me since the day I arrived here. Students come and go, but you have been my foundation year after year, and I thank you for that.

To parents, friends, and followers off-campus, in South Africa and abroad – thank you for hundreds of letters, emails, phone calls, prayers and ‘packages of support’ (from biltong to books). In the most difficult times, you rallied from everywhere with a word of support, often on social media. Know this: your words kept me calm in the storm.

Thank you, everyone.

Goodbye.

Prof Jonathan Jansen
Vice-Chancellor and Rector
University of the Free State

Description: Prof Jansen saying goodbey Tags: Prof Jansen saying goodbey

Prof Jonathan Jansen steps down as UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector (16 May 2016)

 

 


We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept