Laboratory experts in Tanzania have formed an association that will represent the country in regional and international laboratory activities.

The National Laboratory Association of Tanzania (NLAT) was formed in a stakeholders meeting held on 26th February, 2013 at the Blue Pearl Hotel in Dar es Salaam.

Speaking at the meeting organized by Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), the Chief Government Chemist, Professor Samwel Manyele said the association will provide consumers with added confidence and give Tanzanian laboratories a competitive edge.

“Currently, there is no formal laboratory association in Tanzania which could help put together efforts made by different individual laboratories to address our challenges, therefore it is paramount for Tanzania to form such an association,” said Professor Manyele in his keynote address.

The Chief Government Chemist said when in full swing, the association members will share costs of laboratory accreditation audits and proficiency testing schemes, skills, knowledge and experiences. He added that the association will represent national interests at regional and international levels.

He identified a number of challenges facing laboratories in Tanzania, including inadequate competence of laboratory staff, service and maintenance of equipment, lack of cooperation and resources sharing among laboratories, lack of comparability of tests and high cost of accreditation. He expressed his optimism that the association will help resolve the challenges.

On her part, the Director of Testing, Calibration and Packaging Services, Mrs. Kezia Mbwambo who represented TBS Acting Director General Mr. Leandri Kinabo said the association will foster cooperation and facilitate the implementation of appropriate local, regional and international standards useful to the laboratory community in the country.

The idea of having a national association for laboratories emanates from the December 2009 meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Laboratory Association, which urged SADC countries without national laboratory associations to establish them.

The meeting that established NLAT attracted 61 participants from various laboratories, regulatory, tertiary, research, testing and conformity assessment bodies. Besides the formation of the association, the meeting also elected an interim Council composed of 14 sector-based members to oversee the kick-starting of the association.

The interim Council elected Mrs. Kezia Mbwambo from TBS to be the President of the Association, while Dr. Joseph Masambu from Tanzania Veterinary Laboratory Agency (TVLA) was elected Vice President. Furthermore, Mr. Ingram Kisamo from TBS was elected Executive Secretary, while Mr. Benny Mallya from the Government Chemist Laboratory Agency (GCLA) was elected Treasurer.