The history of Health Laboratory Services in Tanzania goes back to late 19th Century during the German administration. In 1897 the first Government Health Laboratory was established at Ocean Road in Dar es Salaam by Dr. Robert Koch who worked in the laboratory on several occasions while investigating malaria, sleeping sickness and other endemic diseases, which were a major health problem in the country. Furthermore, between 1895 and 1898, Dr. Gustav Giemsa the pioneer of the Giemsa stain worked with Government Chemistry Laboratory at Ocean Road. Since then laboaratory services continued to grow countrywide. The ocean Road Laboratory became the Central Pathology Laboratory (CPL) in the early 1960s under the Ministry of Health, which in later years (1971) moved to current premises at Muhimbili National Hospital.
Between 1971 and 1986, the Tanzania Government entered into a 15-year agreement with the German under GTZ to strength laboratory services in Tanzania in the following in three phases. Phase one (1971-1974) focused on strengthening of the Central Pathology Laboratory and establishment of Central Laboratory Equipment Maintenance Workshop. Phase two (1975-1980) focused on strengthening of Regional Hospital Laboratory Services and establishment of Zonal Equipment Maintenance Workshops. Phase three (1980-1986) focused on strengthening of District Hospital Laboratory Services. From 1987 to 1991, the Swiss Government supported the Ministry of Health and Social welfare to conduct a comprehensive situation analysis of Laboratory services in the country, which resulted in the formation of National Health Laboratory Services Policy (1990) and Operational Guidelines (1991). In the process of implementing the guidelines, a necessity of establishing legal bodies to govern public and private laboratory practice in the country became apparent.
Subsequently, Ministry in collaboration with various stakeholders including Medical Laboratory Science Association of Tanzania (MeLSAT) and Association of Pathologists of Tanzania (APT) initiated the process to establish legal bodies namely the Private Health Laboratory Board (PHLB) and the Health Laboratory Technologists Council (HLTC). The HLTC was sucessfully established under the Health Laboratory Technologist Regulation Act, No. 11 of 1997 and came into enforcement and operation with effect from 1st December 1997 under the Government order No. 765 of 1997. The HLTC Act was recently reviewed and repealed,while at the same time a new Act for Health Laboratory Practitioners, No. 22 of 2007 was enacted in January 2008 and became operational on 1st February 2009. The Council is regulating Health Laboratory Practitioners within the country who are defined by the Act include Health Laboratory Scientists, Health Laboratory Technologists and Health Laboratory Assistants.