Players commit to boost sector contribution to SA’s business growth and provision of sustainable and quality healthcare

The National Medical Technology (MEDTECH) Master Plan was launched today, 13 May 2024 by the Minister of Trade Industry and Competition, Mr Ebrahim Patel, the medtech industry, agencies of government, representatives from the private sector hospital groups, regulatory bodies, pharma, media, and private procurers.

The MEDTECH Master Plan seeks to guide the public and private sectors to dedicate resources and time to strengthening the sector in order to place it on a growth trajectory. The plan unites South African health system stakeholders to give medical technology greater prominence in the economy and to benefit South African and African patients. The Master Plan’s 2035 vision is for a digitalised, integrated and cohesive ecosystem that enables, supports and encourages the development, growth, and competitiveness of local medical technology value chains to produce reliable, safe, quality, and affordable MEDTECH for domestic and export markets.

The South African Medical Technology Industry Association (SAMED) was the lead signatory on behalf of the medical technology sector, with SAMED being involved in the master plan processes since they started in 2021.

Currently, the bulk of the assembled medtech products and materials necessary for the limited and mainly, small-scale local manufacturing are imported and present a significant portion of South Africa’s trade deficit. The COVID-19 pandemic illustrated the pitfalls of South Africa’s excessive reliance on imports, the inadequate supply of essential products and the urgent need to optimise the economic and health system advantages of building a stronger local medtech industry.

South Africa is one of the largest MEDTECH markets across Africa and the Middle East, with employment of up to 30,000 jobs, an estimated value of R21 billion in 2021 and projected to grow to R29.6 billion by 2025.

The recognition of medtech as a sector to be spotlighted through a comprehensive national Master Plan underscores intentions to dramatically grow the medtech industry, have more locally produced and competitively priced products being used in patient care and other associated economic benefits and contributions to South African socioeconomic and health-related goals and outputs.

South Africa is one of the largest medtech markets across Africa and the Middle East, with the MEDTECH Master Plan aiming to improve this position and the industry’s competitiveness and return on investment even further. Master Plan’s key strategic objectives are:

  • The growth of a proficient and competitive medical technology industry over the next three years, with a special focus on the development of small and medium enterprises, that will supply domestic and international markets.
  • The reduction of the industry-specific trade deficit by 5% over the next five years.
  • The generation of employment and development of technical skills to create 1,000 new jobs over the next three years.
  • To digitalise and use artificial intelligence to enable proficient regulatory processes.

To unlock investments and sufficient volumes that will secure the competitiveness of locally produced medtech in South Africa and the African markets, today’s launch focused on the following priority deliverables: (i) the identification of medtech that is suited for rapid localisation; (ii) an Africa growth strategy that will unlock volumes and export opportunities and progress healthcare delivery across Africa and (iii) facilitate the South African medtech industry’s long term sustainability.

“Today’s launch of the MEDTECH Master Plan is a momentous occasion for our sector and the country. SAMED and other medtech representative associations appreciate the government’s and the dtic’s leadership on this valuable new pro-industry partnership programme,” said Peter Mehlape, Chairperson of SAMED.

“To quote Minister Ebrahim Patel, the Master Plan is a real partnership. The Minister used the analogy of another much-loved South African tradition – bring-and-braai – to invite our industry, regulators, funders, and other role-players to bring the ingredients within their area of expertise and a collaborative approach to ensure the success of this social pact operating at the industry level.”

Mehlape said the industry Master Plan will unite commitments under a joint cause and strengthen communication channels and relationships to act speedily to realise opportunities and resolve challenges related to increasing local production and scale up at competitive prices and for real impact.

“On behalf of the SAMED leadership and members, and the medical devices and technologies sector, let’s continue to infuse the energy and commitments to see transformation and localisation take route and flourish,” concluded Mehlape.