In his opening of the conference, SAMED Chairperson, Marlon Burgess, welcomed delegates to the 2021 SAMED conference which started on 19 October. He acknowledged the often challenging healthcare landscape that was brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and how this impacted the medtech sector, healthcare professionals and ultimately patients. He commended the adaptability and resilience of the sector and people more broadly as they look ahead and plan for what comes next.

This was followed by a session that delved into innovation in medtech. The message of the session was that innovation did not have to be achieved in isolation, but could be a partnership or collaboration between academia, international investors, local funders and industry. The session also highlighted trends in healthcare, including remote monitoring and diagnostics, other digital healthcare and home care, data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and telemedicine.

Building on the telemedicine conversation, the next session looked into the legalities and ethics thereof. There was a lengthy discussion around what was permissible and what should be considered even when it is permissible – including guidance from the HPCSA and the WHO.

After a short break, the conference continued with an insightful look at capacitating the healthcare sector (specifically rural areas) with learners from rural settings and great success achieved with creating healthcare graduates. While a passion project, the initiative also benefited the healthcare system and offered BBBEE benefits for those sponsoring youth who participate in the programme.

The final session of the day included South African, the SADC region, the wider African continent and a global perspective on regulatory harmonisation. This included key considerations for ensuring that regulations are effective at ensuring quality and safety without limiting patient access to medtech. While time ran short to engage in questions, the session provided an overview of the initiatives that were underway and how they relate to other regulations including the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

It was, all in all, a well attended and successful first day for the SAMED 2021 Annual Conference and we look forward to what day two and day three hold.