LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: Ian Collard, CEO of Namib Mills group of companies, at the Namib Laboratories ribbon-cutting ceremony. Photo: CONTRIBUTED
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: Ian Collard, CEO of Namib Mills group of companies, at the Namib Laboratories ribbon-cutting ceremony. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

Big plans for Namib Laboratories

Lack of local vet services prompted start of the lab
The vision of the founders of Namib Laboratories is to revolutionise analytical and pathological laboratory services in Namibia.
Ellanie Smit
There are big plans for Feedmaster subsidiary Namib Laboratories, which held its grand opening last week.

The state-of-the art laboratory located in Windhoek’s Olympia suburb was established in 2018 to conduct all microbiological, serological and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) related diagnostic tests for the Namib Mills group of companies.

Laboratory manager Louise Clack said the lab’s beginnings were rooted in the frustration regarding local veterinary services, particularly concerning the poultry industry.

Some of the challenges faced in the industry are turnaround times. She said before the lab opened, biological samples had to be sent to South Africa.

“Feedmaster took on the challenge to establish laboratory services to handle veterinary and microbiological analyses for Namib Poultry Industries and Namib Mills. From the start, Namib Laboratories aimed to establish an internationally accredited, independent laboratory,” Jaco Labuschagne, Feedmaster general manager, said.

According to Clack, they soon realised that there is a need to offer the laboratory services to Namibia's veterinarians and food service-related industries. In 2020, they also offered their services to the health ministry to do Covid-19 testing since Namib Laboratories had the equipment and skilled personnel to conduct these tests.

Revolutionise lab services

The laboratory has created 11 job opportunities.

“The vision is to revolutionise analytical and pathological laboratory services in Namibia,” Clack said.

According to her, most poultry-related veterinary testing, including microscopy, bird vaccination programmes and PCR tests for disease identification, can be handled by a team with sufficient expertise.

“Namib Laboratories is now testing for trichomonas and campylobacter in cattle, thanks to diversification in the agricultural section.”

She added that veterinarians also have the opportunity to get in touch with them about buying test kits for any procedures they frequently carry out.

Blood, culture testing

Namib Laboratories can also help manufacturing companies perform blood and culture testing for the health of food handlers or employees. These tests include hepatitis, staphylococcus, widal and parasite screening.

Clack said the clinical section is the lab’s latest division and the one the Namib Laboratories team is most passionate about.

Using Beckman Coulter equipment, they can do all chemistry, immunochemistry and haematology investigations. They are also capable of performing any microbiological cultures.

They are currently in talks with pathologists to join the team and they can consult with doctors about any results or other issues, she said.

Namib Laboratories procures the essential equipment and reagents for chemistry and water studies, and anticipates starting water tests soon.

Once this equipment is in place, the lab can do mineral studies on soil, feed, and feed source materials.

"Watch this space! Many more things are still to come,” Clack said.

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Namibian Sun 2022-12-04

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