Medtech industry welcomes arrival of COVID vaccines and outlines its support for SA’s vaccine programme

The South African Medical Technology Industry Association (SAMED) welcomes the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines – intended for healthcare workers – and supports the government-led national COVID-19 vaccine programme. As the voice of the medtech industry, SAMED is participating in public-private consultations and in coordinating the private sector’s contribution to the vaccine rollout.

The medtech industry is at the centre of healthcare delivery with many SAMED members providing products and services essential to vaccines and immunisation.

“Our members are keen to play their part in protecting South Africans from COVID-19. Medtech personnel play a vital role in delivery of health services and our vibrant medical technology sector is promoting South Africa’s socio-economic recovery from the pandemic,” says Avanthi Govender Bester, chairperson of SAMED.

“We are confident that our members and the medtech sector will be able to supply necessary syringes, needles, sharps disposal boxes and other medtech products like COVID tests, gloves and other PPE in sufficient quantities.

“This must be done with utmost respect for credible, ethical and outcomes-based procurement practices. As SAMED, we are determined to root out corruption that undermines procurement and application of quality medical technology – most importantly, this puts healthcare workers and patients at risk. The Medical Device Code for Ethical Marketing and Business Practice to which all SAMED members subscribe is a powerful instrument to advance ethics,” says Govender Bester.

As a member of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), SAMED is advising Business for South Africa (B4SA) on the workstream for vaccine logistics, cold-chain and distribution that directly relates to the medtech elements of the national vaccine effort.

The workstream aims to collaborate with the Ministry of Health on the procurement, distribution and other aspects of medical technology as central to the COVID-19 vaccine initiative, including:

  • Continued COVID-19 testing
  • Vaccine pipeline
  • Medtech requirements for vaccine rollout and factors affecting global demand and local supply
  • Local manufacturing capability of COVID-19 vaccine ancillary products
  • Quality, standards, vetting of suppliers and other best practice procurement approaches
  • Operational issues such as cold chain, patient and healthcare worker safety and waste management.

SAMED has also provided input into a data-gathering initiative regarding prioritisation of ‘critical’ medtech company representatives within the national vaccine programme. Many employees from the sector enter healthcare facilities on a daily basis for various clinical (eg support within theatres and other areas of patient care) and non-clinical purposes (eg maintenance, delivery of stock). Furthermore, SAMED believes that medtech suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, technicians and others working in the sector should be considered as part of an appropriate early phase of the vaccine programme.

Govender Bester says: “Working with government and other stakeholders to formulate a clear, consistent and efficient approach to managing this matter is of crucial relevance to SAMED members, but also for the entire vaccine programme as a step towards better health of South Africans.”

Rallying behind the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues SAMED’s involvement in the pandemic response since early 2020.

SAMED has focused on strengthening the policy framework and governance regarding the procurement and supply of PPE, diagnostics and other medtech essentials for COVID-19 prevention and care. SAMED assists its members, and other medtech suppliers, to understand and implement national regulations, which have considerably impacted the industry and its customers, namely healthcare providers involved in COVID and non-COVID-related patient care.