The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), is a national public entity established in terms of the National Health Laboratory Service Act 37 of 2000 to provide quality, affordable and sustainable health laboratory and related public health services to all public healthcare providers, other government institutions and any private healthcare provider in need of service. It services over 80% of the South African population across all nine provinces and it was mandated to support health research and provide training for health science education.
It was designed to be a self-funded body raising funds from the diagnostic tests it provides for provincial health departments. The NHLS is the main provider of clinical support services to the national, provincial and local Departments of Health through its countrywide network of diagnostic laboratories. It conducts diagnostic tests, produces highly acclaimed research and provides teaching and training for medical technicians, medical technologists and pathologists. The NHLS also provides surveillance support for communicable diseases, occupational health and cancer, and thus, it endeavours to align its strategy to both the Department of Health priorities and the National and Regional Burden of Disease Surveillance.