The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health is currently hearing oral submissions on the draft NHI Bill from various stakeholders. As we wait for our allocated slot, when NHI Committee chairperson Marlon Burgess and vice-chair Ruwaida Shaikh will represent the association, we reviewed SAMED’s presentation at a member forum on 18 June. The forum also informed members on what other key role players have been saying to the Portfolio Committee.

Addressing the Portfolio Committee on Health is a valuable opportunity to raise awareness about the medtech sector and build relationships with parliamentarians and policy makers.

Our presentation therefore provides an abridged, contextualised introduction to our industry. We highlight how medtech  it differs from the pharmaceutical sector and the lessons provided by the COVID pandemic before concentrating on the draft Bill – and particularly on its proposed funding, procurement and pricing processes. We ask MPs to consider how suitable these are for ensuring an uninterrupted and cost-effective supply of locally relevant, efficient and quality medtech. At a high level, our submission also presents SAMED as an action-oriented voice of the South African medtech industry. Ultimately, we want these important stakeholders to see SAMED as a leader not only in medtech but in healthcare provision in general.

We will share our final presentation with the members and plan to brief stakeholders, including the media. Meanwhile, here are some of the main arguments we intend to raise in Parliament – and we call on members to continue to engage with SAMED on the NHI in general and on any particular aspects as the changing legislative landscape impacts on your businesses.

  • The medtech value chain is complex and our industry holds numerous economic and post-pandemic recovery opportunities in terms of job creation, transformation, expansion of local manufacture of medtech and export.
  • The NHI Bill should be nested within a holistic legal framework within which policy integration must happen at different spheres of government to prevent discordant legislation and unintended complications in the implementation of NHI. We call on Parliament to ensure that there is not only engagement with the public and other health service and product providers, but crucially also between different government departments and across the national, provincial and local levels.
  • A blended centralised-decentralised approach to procurement has been shown internationally to be the most effective and cost-efficient. It fosters competition between suppliers, allows for industry sustainability and provision of health products on fair and equitable terms. Within this approach, value-based procurement plays a significant role and there is established  best practice in determining value and price.
  • The governance of the NHI should be beyond reproach.  We will indicate that SAMED is a willing partner in building the skills of procurement officials in medtech supply chain management.
  • HTAs are essential in evaluating technologies within a procurement system. SAMED will recommend that the HTA process should be fit-for-purpose, match the complexity of health technology, avoid being too lengthy and expensive, and strive to enable access for patients. We also endorse the Health Market Inquiry’s recommendation that NHI requires an independent HTA agency to conduct evidence-based assessments. SAMED  will soon be initiating a project to help create such an agency in cooperation with other relevant parties.

In closing, SAMED supports the WHO concept of universal health coverage as the means to improving the health of our nation and overcoming the challenges of the current fragmented health system. SAMED wishes to be an active partner in the rollout of effective UHC in South Africa and is committed to building skills and finding ways to advancing positive health outcome in partnership with all stakeholders.