08/07/2016 08:43 AST

The medical technology (MedTech) industry in Middle East and North Africa (Mena) is growing at a steady pace of five per cent annually and is set to play an important role in improving healthcare facilities in the region by offering latest devices to diagnose, monitor and treat almost every disease today, an expert says.

chairman, Middle East Medical Devices and Diagnostics Trade Association (Mecomed), said the annual value of the Mena MedTech market is currently worth $7 billion and is expected to grow to $11 billion by 2021.

"With 27 of the world's top 30 MedTech companies having a base in Mena, it's not a huge surprise," Rajab told Khaleej Times during an interview.

Mecomed was established in 2007 with an aim to bring all healthcare stakeholders and the MedTech industry together to improve the quality of people's health in ethical, clinically and economically sustainable ways. The association, which currently includes 28 multinational MedTech companies as registered members and covers 21 countries in the Mena, is expecting 35 members by the end of this year.

"The industry is growing at about five per cent per annum mostly due to unmet needs and a high population growth. Currently, there is an estimated 140,000 people employed in the MedTech industry across Mena. We can expect that number to grow," Rajab said.

He said technology plays a crucial role in all industries, but healthcare is definitely one of the most important beneficiaries. He said medical technology has allowed healthcare professionals to better diagnose and treat their patients.

He said countless lives have been saved and patients' quality of life continues to improve, thanks to the advancement of medical technologies, from innovations such as the stethoscope to the Xray and MRI machines.

"Now we see the regular use of artificial organs, robotic prosthetic limbs and new cardiac devices that are small enough to be delivered through blood vessels into the heart, avoiding high-risk open heart surgery," he said.

"Diabetes is a major concern across Mena, with more than 35 million people diagnosed with the disease and having to suffer daily needle pricks to manage it. Thanks to advancements in medical technology, patients can now experience needle-free diabetes care," he added.

Interesting devices

Referring to a latest report from Mecomed's counterpart in Europe, Eucomed, he said there are more than 500,000 medical technologies currently available and they all share a common purpose - improving and extending peoples' lives.

"Working in the MedTech industry, you see all devices as interesting. They all have a role to play and are already diagnosing, monitoring and treating virtually every disease or condition that affects us," he said.

To a question, he said 3D printing is opening up a new world for medical device designers. From prototyping to volume manufacturing, prostheses to implants and the integration of mobile phones and medical technology are to be recognised.

He was of the view that mobile health applications can monitor and provide direct care to patients and can help bring healthcare access across the world, improve clinical data gathering and improve the delivery of healthcare information.

"The robotic-assisted surgery market is another gamechanger in the MedTech industry with sophisticated machines for operating theatres that can reduce the length of operations and speed up the patient's recovery time," he said.

Commonly used devices

Rajab said the top five devices used by patients across Mena include those in imaging and diagnostics such as Xray and ultrasound, cardiovascular devices such as stents, pacemakers and heart valves, patient safety equipment tools which can help minimise the risk of infection, disposable devices such as the retractable needle syringes and orthopaedic medical

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