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National health care needs Impetus

The medical device industry plays a critical role at every step of the healthcare continuum and has seen notable progress over the past decade. According to Invest India, in the past three years alone, the sector has shown a remarkable growth of 15% CAGR, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and is expected to reach $50 billion by 2025. Although this growth has been key to improving access to healthcare services in India, several ecosystem constraints have led to a heavy reliance on imports to meet domestic demand.

According to the IBEF, no less than 75 to 80% of India’s medical device needs are met by imports. As India strives to achieve its goal of “affordable and quality healthcare for all”, there is huge potential for capitalizing on domestic manufacturing to facilitate this goal. Reducing import dependency and making India a self-sufficient medical device manufacturer will not only maximize the availability of medical equipment but also enable cost-effective treatments for a holistic and sustainable health ecosystem.

A renewed thrust

Given the vastness of a country like India, it is important to recognize specific challenges that may not be common to other markets. For example, devices that consume less power, are portable, and easy to use are ideal for small markets in India that face power shortages, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of skilled workers. This further highlights the need to locally develop and manufacture medical devices such as CT scanners, ventilators, patient monitors and others.

However, there is a need for a thriving and abundant supply of components and spare parts that go into medical devices. India lacked a strong network of complementary and essential ancillary units that could qualify as suppliers on the basis of technological capabilities and process rigor. Recognizing this, the government has taken powerful initiatives, especially in recent years, which include tax incentives and dedicated manufacturing parks, among others.

Most notable recently has been the production-related incentive programs (PLI 1.0 and PLI 2.0) launched in FY 2020-21 for a period of seven years, to boost domestic manufacturing of medical devices in four segments keys and in the in vitro diagnostic space. The PLI model is also designed to attract large investments into the sector. The government allowed 100% FDI under the automatic route for brownfield projects and the creation of medical devices.

With approximately $600 million in FDI inflows into this sector over the past five years as well as the draft National Medical Device Policy 2022 being developed by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, the confidence of global players in this market is justified, indicating that India is on the right track. for growth in the years to come.

Towards autonomy

India’s current stance on medical devices needs to be reconsidered on many fronts if the country is to move closer to its healthcare goals and achieve the expected growth for the sector. For example, labor and skills shortages affect many sectors, and health care is no exception. Medical device manufacturing in India will have a multiplier effect on job creation for the manufacturing workforce.

This will simultaneously give rise to an opportunity to promote diversity and inclusion in a sector such as manufacturing with unconventional roles that are increasingly taken on by women such as plant managers, engineers and operators. . Adequate training and opportunities for a manufacturing workforce will be crucial to ensuring efficient operations and optimal production in medical device manufacturing.

The role of public-private partnerships (PPPs) will also be crucial in building manufacturing capacity, bringing greater expertise and accelerating the adoption of new technologies and advanced techniques in the sector. This will only be possible with timely government reforms. Although a lot has been done, more can be done in the coming years to make India a major source of supply for medical devices globally, all along the value chain. . According to the Department of Pharmaceuticals, India is the 4th largest medical device market in Asia after Japan, China and South Korea. Only with a supportive and strong ecosystem with R&D facilities for frugal innovation in medical devices can India hope to become self-sufficient in this sector.

Despite the country’s enormous potential in this sector, India needs to foster and sustain a nurturing environment for local production of medical devices in its journey to become an unparalleled medical manufacturing hub. To make this dream a reality, it is important to note that long-term prospects require long-term support. Building a comprehensive ecosystem to boost the medical device industry will be instrumental in the coming years to improve care delivery across the healthcare continuum in India.

– The author Mahesh Kapri is Managing Director GE BEL and Managing Director – ISC, South Asia at GE Healthcare. The opinions expressed are personal.

(Edited by : Priyanka Deshpande)

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