The Zambia Bureau of Standards is one of the 9 statutory bodies under the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry.
ZABS develop national standards that are market driven, tests products on behalf of various clients such as regulators, manufacturers, importers, exporters, Government agencies and the general public. In addition, ZABS offers product and systems certification to industry as well as training in various management systems.
ZABS has a total of eight laboratories namely General Chemistry, Microbiology, Petroleum, Textiles and Packaging, Condoms, Paints, construction materials and electrical laboratories. There are also 2 satellite laboratories in Chipata and Mongu. Five of these laboratories are accredited to ISO 17025 the International Standard for General requirements for competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories.
This accreditation means that the laboratories have undergone a thorough third party assessment and have been proved to comply with ISO 17025. This demonstrates that the results generated from these laboratories are credible, reliable, consistent, and internationally acceptable. Accreditation is the highest level of credibility any Laboratory can achieve in as far as testing is concerned. The laboratories where first accredited in 2015 and have maintained this status up to date which shows that ZABS `has a robust quality management system in place.
Accreditation focusses on a number of requirements such as Management systems, Technical requirements, competence of staff, equipment creditability, risk management, confidentiality and impartiality.
Regarding the testing of the condoms, the condoms laboratory is one of the accredited laboratories. The specifications used to analyze the products are in line with ISO 4074:2015, which specifies the requirements and test methods for natural rubber latex male condoms while for the gloves, the products are tested against ISO 11193, which specifies the requirements for gloves made from rubber latex or rubber solution. The test results for these products are accurate, impartial and credible. There should be no doubts in the credibility of the test reports produced by the condoms laboratory.
The ZABS laboratories participate in what is called proficiency testing schemes (PTs). This is where the data produced by a laboratory is compared with other similar laboratories. The purpose of the proficiency testing is to assess the performance of laboratories for their conduct of specific tests, measurements or calibrations. The ZABS condoms laboratory participates in proficiency testing schemes and has over the past 7 years been scoring 100%. This is proof that the tests conducted in this laboratory can be trusted and held to high standards.
ZABS collaborates with various regulators as we provide testing services that are critical for decision making. These regulators include ERB, the public health department, NWASCO, ZEMA, ZCSA, MSL, FRA, ZAMRA to mention a few. ZABS would like to assure regulators and other clients that it will continue to uphold the highest level of standards in offering these services.
Other than serving the regulators, ZABS services are available for industry to test and certify their products and quality management systems. The Government has over the years invested in the National Quality Infrastructure to be able to support industry in producing quality and competitive products and services. The accreditation status of the testing facilities at ZABS should give assurance to the industry and general public of the competence of the institution especially as we look towards participating in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Lastly, our Quality Management System and Procedures on confidentiality and Impartiality does not allow ZABS to issue out results to third parties but only to clients that bring samples to us for analysis. Our focus is never on who manufactured those products or who supplied them but on producing credible results with which our clients can make an informed decision.
With this, we would like to conclude that ZABS dispels all the baseless allegations that are spreading in the public domain about the institutions lack of competence, integrity and credibility. ZABS is a technical institution as such our dealings and procedures are driven and will continue to be driven by science.