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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

Translation Day Seminar
2007-10-22

Subverting the West? Engaging language practice as African interpretation.

With the above-mentioned title in mind, about 30 people gathered at the Main Campus of the University of the Free State (FS) in Bloemfontein for a Translation Day Seminar. The day was attended by academics, language practitioners, government departments, students, and other stakeholders in language practice.

Prof. Jackie Naudé, the Programme Director for the Programme in Language Practice at the UFS, gave a short historical overview of developments in research and training in language practice of the past decade. He argued in favour of a socio-constructivist approach to teaching and research in language practice. His point was that students need to be given the opportunity to engage with the complexities of real-life problems, specifically the complexities of the African context.

Dr Kobus Marais, Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the UFS, gave an overview of the state of the art of translation research. This meant that language practitioners are agents in communication, not mere conduits of meaning. He argued that translators’ agency implied that they have to make informed choices, the most important of which is whether to indigenise or foreignise when translating. He developed wisdom as a notion in translation, indicating that translators need to be wise to interpret their context and translate in such a way that (Western) ideology does not ride piggy-back on their translations into the African target culture.

Prof. Joan Connoly, Associate Professor in the Centre for Higher Education Development at Durban University of Technology (DUT), took the audience on a breathtaking journey on the topic of oral knowledge. Her presentation showed examples, both European and African oral knowledge and had a clear message for language practitioners: What can Africans learn from the Western mind? Her answer: "Africans can learn how easy it is to loose one’s oral knowledge base. Africans can look at the West and see what the consequences are when a culture loses its oral-based knowledge. Language practitioners have it in their power to consider this possible loss and do something about it."

Lastly, Ms Lolie Makhubu, Head of the Department of Language and Translation at DUT, spoke about enticement in interpreting to use loan words to impress either the audience or peers or clients. Her argument boils down to the interpreter’s attitude towards African culture and language. If Western culture is regarded as higher than African culture, interpreters will be tempted to boast their knowledge of Western culture by means of their choice of words. However, if interpreters are “Proudly South African”, as she put it, they have not need for showing off by using loan words.


 

Dr Kobus Marais (Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the UFS) during the seminar.
Photo (supplied)

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