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A Look Back at the First Annual Transforming African MedTech Conference 2023

The first annual TAMC took place on August 24-25, 2023, at the Mercure Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya and aimed to build a vision for a comprehensive and transformative African medical technology industry. Over 100 guests from across Africa and beyond attended the event to discuss and strategise the future of MedTech in Africa. Here's a look back at the key concepts discussed during the conference.

Strengthening the MedTech Innovation Ecosystem

One of the central themes of the conference was the need to strengthen the MedTech innovation ecosystem. This involves a multifaceted approach that includes education, technology development, product innovation, investment, technical assistance, and favourable trade and tax policies. The participants highlighted the importance of building bridges between academia and private industry to accelerate the timeframe from ideation to commercialisation. The collective use of expertise from across the continent was seen as crucial to this endeavour.

Regulatory and Policy Landscape

A significant portion of the discussions centred around the regulatory and policy landscape necessary to foster MedTech innovation. The focus was on creating a harmonised regulatory environment across Africa, leveraging platforms like the African Medicines Agency (AMA) and the African Medical Devices Forum (AMDF). The goal is to develop unified guidelines for regulation and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification. Establishing independent, neutral, and multidisciplinary entities to spearhead these regulatory discussions was emphasised as a key step.

Financial Sustainability in MedTech

Financial sustainability emerged as a critical challenge and opportunity for the MedTech sector in Africa. Participants discussed various strategies to attract investment and ensure the financial viability of MedTech innovations. This includes exploring both traditional funding mechanisms and innovative financing models tailored to the unique needs of the African market. The conference underscored the importance of collaboration between public and private sectors to mobilise resources effectively.

African-Centred MedTech Solutions

The concept of African-centred MedTech was a recurring theme, emphasising the need for solutions tailored to the specific health challenges and contexts of the African continent. This includes developing technologies that are not only innovative but also accessible, affordable, and sustainable. The discussions highlighted the necessity for local manufacturing capabilities to reduce dependency on imported medical devices, which often come with challenges such as lack of spare parts and technical support.

Local Manufacturing Capacity

Enhancing local manufacturing capacity is seen as a critical component in the development of a robust MedTech sector in Africa. The conference discussions stressed the importance of building local expertise and infrastructure to support the production of medical technologies. This includes fostering partnerships between local manufacturers and international stakeholders to transfer knowledge and technology, thereby improving the quality and reliability of locally produced MedTech solutions.

Market Access

Achieving market access for locally developed MedTech products involves navigating a complex landscape of regulatory requirements, distribution networks, and competitive dynamics. The participants explored strategies to improve market access, including leveraging regional trade agreements and creating supportive regulatory frameworks. Building strong market linkages across the continent was identified as essential for the success of African MedTech innovations.

Vision for the Future

The TAMC 2023 conference successfully set the stage for a collaborative and innovative future for the African MedTech sector. By bringing together diverse stakeholders, the event fostered a shared vision aimed at enhancing patient care, improving diagnostics, and increasing accessibility to healthcare services through locally developed technologies. The commitment to continuous dialogue and action among participants promises to drive the MedTech industry forward, ensuring that Africa can meet its healthcare challenges with innovative and sustainable solutions.

The first annual TAMC was a pivotal event that laid the groundwork for transforming the MedTech landscape in Africa. Through collective engagement and strategic partnerships, the conference highlighted the potential for Africa to develop a thriving MedTech industry that addresses the continent's unique healthcare needs.

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