With a population of 59 million, South Africa has one of the strongest economies in sub-Saharan Africa. A Free Trade Agreement exists between EFTA States (Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). An indication of the success of this agreement is the 129% increase in trade between South Africa and EFTA over the past ten years.
With a two-tier healthcare system, comprising the public and the smaller but rapidly growing private sector, South Africa has one of the most dynamic health sectors in the world. Currently, there are 422 public hospitals and 203 private hospitals in South Africa, and the total healthcare market is projected to reach a value of US$37bn by 2022 and US$47.1bn by 2027. The medical device market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.97 percent during the forecasting period 2018-2024 due to public-private partnerships to develop hospitals, government new health insurance schemes and the growing ageing population.
The South African government is committed to implementing universal healthcare, and market growth will likely be influenced by the government’s National Health Insurance (NHI) programme and increased spending on healthcare. The private healthcare sector is very sophisticated with world class facilities and healthcare provision, and offers a good prospect for advanced technology and equipment. There is little local manufacture and the majority of equipment and devices are imported, mainly from the United States but also from Germany, China, Switzerland, the UK and Japan.
In both sectors, ageing and growing populations and greater prevalence of chronic diseases, combined with financial restraints are demanding innovative, high-tech solutions to the increasing healthcare demand.
AREAS OF PROJECTED GROWTH
- Universal healthcare and NHI: Universal healthcare will require strong partnerships between public and private players who are able to provide creative solutions to improve access and affordability in the country.
- Vertical integration of larger healthcare providers: With companies looking to control the costs of their supply chain by owning more of it, mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships are commonplace, and the market is looking to health technology for help: IoMT (internet of medical things; SaMD (Software as Medical device); Services such as ICT consulting, cyber security, data analytics, digitization and compliance
- Medical equipment and devices: As an emerging market, South Africa offers considerable potential for growth. Limited medical device production means that the market is largely dependent on imports, and South Africa is the primary business hub for the medical device industry in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Radiological equipment: Diagnostic imaging facilities are underdeveloped with a low provision of advanced radiological and radiation equipment. The rising burden of chronic diseases and technological advances in imaging, including AI-powered applications, are key factors driving projected growth.
- Surgical technology: There is a growing market, particularly in the private sector, for advancements in surgical technology, such as robotic-assisted surgery, that positively impact surgical outcomes.
- Dental equipment: The increasing burden of oral diseases and an ageing population offer opportunities for prophylaxis, dental devices and technological advancement in dentistry.
- Diabetes: This is a significant health issue in South Africa. Around 15% of the population are either diabetic or pre-diabetic, and diabetes is the second most common cause of death in the country.
SWISS TECHNOLOGIES AND SOUTH AFRICA
Opportunities exist for Swiss companies that can offer innovative technologies to meet healthcare needs:
- Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), Software as Medical Device (SaMD), Assistive Technology and Robotics
- Integration of data and data analysis
- Data protection, compliance and security
- Innovative medical equipment, devices and technologies