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LANCET LA B O RATO RI ES

FEATURE


Expanding INTO

AFRICA

Lancet Laboratories is one of South Africa’s oldest and most respected private pathology laboratories and continues to expand into Africa, says Lancet Laboratories marketing director Peter de Wet.

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Lancet Laboratories FEATURE

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ancet Laboratories is one of Africa’s leading pathology laboratories, providing vital diagnostic and monitoring pathology services in South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Lancet is SANAS accredited and currently operates in both the public and private healthcare sectors. It cares for around 18,000 patients a day and offers an extensive range of pathology services, from sophisticated molecular and cytogenetic investigations to advanced chemical analyses. “We operate pathology services north of Free State and have several hundred labs (around 300) across Africa,” says Lancet Laboratories marketing director Peter de Wet. “Our aim is to be the dominant force in the emerging new markets in South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa. We provide a wide range of lab tests and have positioned ourselves well geographically.” Lancet was established almost 60 years ago in the heart of Johannesburg’s central business district. In 1996 the main laboratory moved to the suburb of Richmond, enabling Lancet to effectively service the whole of the Gauteng region, says de Wet. In 2000 it merged with the Durban pathology practice, Pillay MacIntosh & Partners, which had a major presence in KwaZulu-Natal, further expanding its geographical reach. More recently, Lancet has merged with the Dyson and Niehaus Laboratories. “We continue to grow and develop, with a special focus on expanding services throughout Africa,” says de Wet. “We provide access to quality monitoring and diagnostic services and there is, in our view, an obvious and growing need for good pathology services on the African continent. Our geographical positioning is significant and strengthens our position as the leading www.southafricamag.com

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Lancet Laboratories FEATURE

private pathology laboratory in Africa.” Lancet has a large network of nurses and phlebotomy staff who service private and public hospitals and clinics, as well as depots in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the NorthWest Province, he adds. Its team of dedicated couriers operate in all of these regions, collecting specimens from medical practices and depots and delivering them safely and efficiently to nearby laboratories. Lancet’s main laboratory in Richmond processes both routine and specialised pathology investigations and also acts as a reference laboratory to many smaller laboratories throughout South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, says de Wet. “As part of our growth strategy, we will be opening up facilities in Nigeria in the foreseeable future. As one of the major 4

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players in the African economy, Nigeria is an important market for us and we will ensure that our facilities provide Nigerians with access to high quality diagnostic and monitoring services. “We also have large reference laboratories in Durban and Pretoria servicing KZN and northern regions - and numerous smaller STAT laboratories have been established in private hospitals and clinics,” he explains. Lancet has been heavily involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB). On national TB day (24th March 2010) it announced details of an upgrade of its TB laboratory facilities in Johannesburg to a Pathogen 3 (P3) status. de Wet says the lab uses new equipment that “rapidly processes samples”. TB is the principal level-3 pathogen in South Africa. “The laboratory is also designed to create a safe working environment,” he


Lancet Laboratories FEATURE

says. “Importantly, the upgrade of the facilities caters for the numerous diagnostic challenges that TB presents to the medical community.” Lancet, he says, uses small, contained molecular biology techniques to make a rapid diagnosis within a few hours of receiving a specimen, while Epilente software links and monitors patients over long periods. “We are prepared to support the drive for extensive testing and effective treatment of TB,” de Wet says. He adds that recent developments in molecular biology have increased the diagnostic abilities and accuracy of diagnostic laboratories. These techniques are used in the new laboratory in Johannesburg. “Lancet is leading the way. It is important to be at the forefront of TB treatment and diagnosis and I think we are.” 6

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For the future, de Wet says, Lancet is continually pursuing SANAS accreditation for all its facilities and has ambitious plans to expand its African footprint. “We will continue with the expansion of our footprint into Africa,” de Wet explains. “Expansion will occur at a measured pace given that we don’t want to over extend ourselves. When we go into a new country, we take in a core team from South Africa to get the fundamentals in place, empowering the local professionals with Lancet’s best-practice training. Equipped with the appropriate skills, our qualified local team is then charged with the responsibility of managing the operation. We want local expertise and also people that understand the local culture and the local way of doing things. If I go into Kenya, the approach there is very different to the approach used in South Africa, just in terms of the way folks interact. Local knowledge is imperative


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and you can’t expect expats to come in with that level of local knowledge – it takes a long time to acquire it. We would rather use local people with skills and assist in strengthening their capabilities.” Lancet aims to reinforce and maintain its position as the leading private laboratory in Southern Africa. de Wet says this will be achieved by maintaining high levels of service, investing in technology and encouraging innovation. It will also continue to invest in its people. “We recognise the importance of our personnel and are committed to training them to provide a service that we expect our clients to receive. We are committed to continuous improvement in all aspects of our operations but can’t stress enough how important the staff are to the future success of Lancet Laboratories. We try to value our staff and create a good working environment.” END

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