Welcome to the NHLS
The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) is the largest diagnostic pathology service in South Africa with the responsibility of supporting the national and provincial health departments in the delivery of healthcare.

The NHLS provides laboratory and related public health services to over 80% of the population through a national network of laboratories.


NHLS Annual Report
  • 2001 - The National Health Laboratory Service is established

    The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) was established through legislation to combine all laboratories in the public health system. This moment aptly affirmed the pride of an unfolding country and transformed the public health service.

  • 2002 - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases is established

    The specialist communicable disease arm, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) was established under the NHLS. This formation came into being through the merging of the National Institute for Virology, the Virology Laboratories and Public Health Microbiology Laboratories of the South African Institute for Medical Research.

  • 2003 - The National Health Laboratory Service is launched

    Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang officially launched the NHLS on 26 November.

  • 2004 - Formation of an Umbrella Agreement to govern relations

    The National Academic Pathology Committee, comprising of representatives from the faculty of health sciences from Universities and Technikons, formed a committee to develop an Umbrella Agreement to govern relationships between universities and the NHLS.

  • 2005 - NHLS/Wits Human Genetic Division established

    The sub-Saharan arm of the geographic project of the National Geographic Society, which investigates genetic ancestry was established in the NHLS/Wits Human Genetic Division.

  • 2006 - An achievement for women in Science

    Professor Valerie Mizrahi was voted South African Woman of the year in the Health, Science and Technology category of the Checkers/SABC 2 Awards.

  • 2007 - NHLS building strong customer relations with the public

    A cooperate data warehouse was initiated to provide efficient access to data, focusing mainly on priority health programmes such as HIV, TB and cervical cancer. A Call Centre was established in this regard to improve accessibility of the public and help build strong customer relations.

  • 2008 - TrakCare launched

    The implementation programme for the new standardised laboratory information system TrakCare was launched on 13 October.

  • 2009 - SAVP Successes

    Geoff Lockwood, a well known Ornithologist was bitten by a bloomslang at the Kruger National Park. He was then transferred to Milpark hospital where he was successfully treated with the bloomslang antivenom manufactured by the South African Vaccine Producers (SAVP) - a proud division of the NHLS.

  • 2010 - Orlando Towers declared safe for public use by the NIOH

    The National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH), a division of the NHLS gave recommendations and declared Orlando Towers safe for public use, consequent to conducting a risk assessment  over concerns for possible health risks posed by asbestos cement pipes that remained in the towers.

  • 2011 - GeneXpert - A first on the African continent

    The NHLS accomplished being the first laboratory diagnostic service on the African continent to develop groundbreaking GeneXpert technology for the diagnosis of the TB and rifampicin resistance that produces a result in two hours, compared to the microscopy and cultures that take between 48 hours and four weeks respectively. On the occasion of World TB Day on 24 March, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi unveiled the high-tech GeneXpert tuberculosis diagnostic instrument at the NHLS’ Prince Mshiyeni Hospital laboratory at KwaZulu-Natal.

  • 2012 - One step closer to a cure for HIV

    A proud year for the organisation and the country as two NHLS researchers revealed a breakthrough in the global search for an HIV vaccine. Professor Lynn Morris, head of NICD’s HIV research department and Penny Moore, senior scientist at NICD played a pivotal role in the discovery that a weakness exists in the HIV virus, which enables certain people to produce potent antibodies.

  • 2013 - NHLS proud to receive the Business Initiative Directions (BID) International Stars Award for quality

    In 2013, the NHLS was proud to receive the Business Initiative Directions (BID) International Stars Award for quality. The award was given to the NHLS for the demonstrated and proven commitment to quality and for the continuous quest for excellence towards customers through attention to products and services.

  • 2014 - 2.4 million HIV viral load tests performed across South Africa

    Approximately 2.4 million HIV viral load tests were performed across the country for the April 2013 to March 2014 period. This was a 20% increase from the previous financial year and a similar increase is anticipated for the 2014/15 financial period, as the number of patients being initiated onto Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment increases. The NHLS is proud to have 17 HIV viral load laboratories nationwide, with nine laboratories using the Roche Cobas Ampliprep/Cobas TaqMan system and eight laboratories using the Abbott m2000 system. In early 2014, additional instruments were placed at Frere Hospital in East London and Edendale Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, and others at Addington Hospital.

  • 2015 - The NHLS wins the prestigious international award

    The NHLS wins the prestigious international award in (European Quality) in the health care sphere category at Montreux, Switzerland.


NHLS research Research conducted covers a wide spectrum of activities in the pathology and surveillance disciplines. The research agenda covers the priority diseases within South Africa, such as HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, pneumococcal infections, occupational health, screening for cervical cancer and malnutrition.



NHLS training The teaching programme includes the training of medical technologists and technicians in association with the universities of technology. The training of undergraduate and postgraduate medical, dental and other health professionals is done through the pathology and public health departments based at the medical and dental schools.


Latest News

  • The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) welcomes investigation by the Special Investigating Unit.

    MEDIA STATEMENT   The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) welcomes investigation by the Special Investigating Unit.


  • Innovative “invisible ink” detects TB

    Professor Bavesh Kana and his team at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), Johannesburg, together with international researchers have pioneered an innovative process to detect TB bacteria by adding a molecule to the bacteria’s own protective layer that illuminates...


  • Situation report on Listeriosis Outbreak, South Africa, 2017

    Date of issue: 04 December 2017 Report issued by: Centre for Enteric Diseases (CED) and Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response, Outbreak Response Unit (ORU), National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)/ National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS).


  • Statement from the NICD/NHLS for World AIDS Day 2017

    The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), which falls under  the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), commemorated World Aids Day on Wednesday 29 November at the PRF Auditorium, Sandringham, Johannesburg.


  • Introduction to GeneXpert MTB/RIF Ultra

    In December 2010, the World Health Organisation (WHO) endorsed the GeneXpert instrument using the Xpert MTB/RIF cartridge for the diagnosis of Tuberculosis (TB).