Mecomed – The voice of MedTech industry in the MEA region

The UAE medical device market will record single-digit CAGR growth over the 2019-2024 period, with imports supplying much of the market. It will beneöt from an overall strong economic performance over the next öve years, despite a tough short-term outlook for 2020 due to Covid-19

As one of the most economically developed and diversified markets in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates has a strong healthcare infrastructure. The creation of a world-class healthcare infrastructure is a top priority for the UAE government and, as a result, the sector has advanced and expanded significantly during the past few years.

Both federal and emirate level governments regulate healthcare in the UAE. Federal-level legislation began in the 1970s and 1980s and there are pending legislative reform initiatives to facilitate the development of the healthcare industry. The UAE Government is liberalizing policies to attract foreign investments to improve the healthcare standard and boost the healthcare industry.

Government commitment to the healthcare sector is one of the key drivers of growth within the UAE’s healthcare market, particularly given that public spending accounts for over two thirds of overall healthcare expenditure. In the 2019 federal budget, a total of Dh60.3 billion was approved for public spending, up 17.3 percent from Dh51.4 billion from the 2018 budget.

In terms of medical devices, the UAE is an import driven market that is growing rapidly to keep pace with the country’s expanding healthcare infrastructure. The government and private healthcare sector are investing heavily to provide countrywide healthcare solutions to the residents, expats, and medical tourists.

The United Arab Emirates’ medical device market will record single- digit CAGR growth over the 2019-2024 period, with imports supplying much of the market. It will benefit from an overall strong economic performance over the next five years, despite a tough short-term outlook for 2020 due to Covid-19. With rising healthcare costs, the government will increase private sector participation. Population growth, a changing epidemiology, a growing medical tourism industry, healthcare infrastructure developments, an expanding health insurance, digital transformation and new technologies will all remain key market drivers, according to Fitch solutions.


Since its inception, Mecomed, the Middle East and Africa Medical Device, Imaging and Diagnostics Trade Association, has strategies, initiatives and activities that are based on key values aiming at keeping the patients first and help shape the Healthcare environment to the best aspirations of society.

Mecomed is the Voice of its almost 40 corporate members, representing in value around 80% of the Medical Devices, Imaging and Diagnostics purchased in the MEA region.

Rami Rajab, Chairman, LivaNova International Fellowship (LIFE), International Corporate Social Responsibility shares with Ayesha Rashid of mediworldme some insights into how they are known to be the voice of international medical technology across the Middle East and Africa region?

Overview of Medical devices, imaging and diagnostics market in the UAE?

UAE is one of the top five countries in the MEA region medical device market with total sales of $1088 million (Fitch Worldwide Medical Device Factbook, 2018), where the best in class products are available to the patients through a balanced regulatory policy which is encouraging innovation while ensuring that the safety and efficacy of the approved products are met. In addition, the capacity increase in both the Private and Public health sectors encourage the Medical Devices, I ma gi ng a nd Di a gno s t i cs companies to showcase latest products especially during key events like Arab Health. The new policy to encourage and attract Medical Tourism will also contribute to the acceleration of the introduction of the latest available technologies.

How do you serve as the voice of international medical technologyindustryacrossthe MEA region?

Over the years, Mecomed has established solid working relationships with various Healthcare stakeholders across the Middle East and Africa and beyond. This positive cooperation, in addition to our partnerships with Local and International Organizations, is aimed towards supporting the transformation of our markets towards a better regulated and compliant healthcare landscape. We have been the credible voice of the industry in ensuring the establishment of solid channels of communication between the Industry and all stakeholders to ensure a safe transfer of knowledge and innovation to better serve society and the patients. Mecomed members discuss issues and opportunities in all transparency and work together on proposed solutions and suggestions through their various committees and these are openly brought up to the concerned authority.

How do you spearhead initiatives and work closely withhealthcareprofessionals in the MEA countries?

Mecomed’s role of ‘Shaping the Healthcare Environment, Keeping the Patient First’ is translated through various initiatives which are clearly defined by Mecomed’s Leadership, then approved by the Board and finally executed via our various specialized steering groups: Regulatory, Compliance, Market Access, Talent and Human Capital, Legal and Government Affairs & Communications. The initiatives will affect all Healthcare Professionals whether they are Regulators, Medical Doctors, Technicians or Nurses, Procurement officials, budget officials, as these are targeting the betterment of the whole health care system. Through regular scheduled meetings we do keep a high level of communication and cooperation with all stakeholders. Over the years, Mecomed has gained the trust of the regional authorities and we are working with several bodies and countries to instill the Code of conduct and ensure that we train various sectors on Compliance, regulation and to build local capacities with the cooperation with local and international resources like the WHO experts.


Can you highlight your initiatives in details?

Our current approved Initiatives/Priorities are,

1 – Impact Analysis: Assessment of regional impact for key regulatory topics: UDI, MDR, Brexit working with peer associations and international bodies to align regionals activities with worldwide regulatory developments

2 – Cooperation with the Regulators: Sharing Expertise with the Regulators on various points of MD regulations and engaging in key regulatory events in the region

3 – Monitoring: Ongoing Regulatory Intelligence & updates across the MEA

4 – Publishing: Industry Position paper around the importance of Post-Market Surveillance for patient safety

5 – Revised Code: Communicating revised Code of Ethics and training sessions for members, their business partners, HCPs and PCOs

6 – Certiöcation: Certiöed partners project (online training and certiöcation of PCOs and HCOs)

7 – CVS Expansion: Enhancing CVS for the third-party events, including booth, education grants etc.

8 – Cooperation with Authorities on Code: Reaching out to authorities to get the Code’s endorsement

9 – Business Health Analytics: Updating and creating healthcare maps for the region

10 -Training and Education: Promoting Value-based healthcare and Engaging into a MEAT “Value-based procurement”strategy

11 – Publishing: Reøection paper on Value- based healthcare

12 – Cooperation with Authorities on addressing market access challenges

13 – Sustainable Development: Reducing the gender gap in MedTech industry in the region

14 – Internal Legal Advice: Providing on-going legal support to the association and its groups or publications, contracts, positions/statements, as well as guidelines and internal policies in line with local laws and policies

15 – Communication: Mecomed Brand strengthening within various stakeholder groups, Communication partner for committees, Social media engagement reinforcement

16 – Government Affairs: Value of MedTech innovation and generation of local data, Privacy laws and Healthcare Funding Reforms monitoring, addressing Parallel Trade challenges.

How do you help in shaping an ethical and sustainable healthcare environment?

Since Mecomed inception, we have set Business Compliance and Ethics as our key motivation to attain a sustainable healthcare environment. We have set our code and updated it to meet the minimum requirements towards a healthy interaction between the industry and HCPs and the Patient.

In your opinion what are the issues facing the healthcare industry in general and how can they be overcome?

The growing and ageing population and increased demand are exerting a high pressure on the healthcare systems and this is reøected on the whole health sector therefore the Industry. Some of the issues we face are:

1-Increased pricing pressure as demand is growing and budgets are not following proportionally.

2-Increased demand and dependence on Technology is associated with Cybersecurity, Data privacy and Safety concerns

3-Healthcare transformation whereas Digital Health and innovation are changing the Healthcare landscape and Industry needs to meet new realities and requirements while patients are becoming more empowered to manage their health

4-Regulation / Technology asynchrony: With communication and data analysis high development traditional regulation is struggling with keeping up hence accumulated delays in the horizon We as an Industry and Mecomed are working very hard with our partners/members to tackle these challenges and some of the actions we are working on are:

i-On the pricing pressure we are in a dialogue with competent authorities to shift to Value-Based solutions versus pricing-based procurement and where we look at the Big Picture including efficiency and Patients Outcomes.

ii-The Industry is tackling cybersecurity and data privacy very seriously and is committed to develop the appropriate measures and incorporate them for the safeguard of the patients’ well- being and privacy

iii-The industry is going through a major transformation to meet the current and future demands and many companies have already established digital platforms to research and develop the interfaces allowing our industry to become increasingly interactive with the emergent digital revolution.

iv-With regards to regulation and as we have shown above, we have and are building a very strong cooperation basis to anticipate current and future requirements and we are advocating a pre- approval program where the industry and the regulatory authorities hold meetings prior to submit new devices to have a comprehensive analysis and assimilation of the new applications.

Do you operate internationally as well?

Mecomed entertains a network of cooperation on the Global Level. Although our focus in on the Middle East and Africa we have a strong Collaboration with other MedTech associations and international bodies (GMTA, GDA, MedTech Europe, AdvaMed, ApacMed, SAMED, WHO, AHWP) this network extend across the world and allows us to exchange best in class practice, experiences and resources. We discuss common challenge in an open and ethical atmosphere and we voice our concerns and opportunities to authorities. One good example is the joint statement published in January 2018 by MedTech Europe, AdvaMed China, APACMed and Mecomed announcing the suspension of direct sponsorships of HCPs to congresses and meetings. These were substituted with more transparent and targeted programs in cooperation with health authorities and medical associations.

How do you bring all healthcare professionals under one roof to improve the quality of people’s health through timely introduction of meaningful medical tech innovation?

Since 2014, Mecomed has held four editions of the regional MedTech forum where all Healthcare Landscape stakeholders from HCP’s to Healthcare Authorities, Providers, Payers, and the Industry meet under one roof to discuss, learn and debate about all aspects of Health care challenges , opportunities and future innovations and policies. This truly International event divided between plenary sessions and specialized workshops is a must-attend and an eye opener of the future of healthcare.

How do healthcare professionals beneöt from initiatives and your association?

Our initiatives are multi-faceted and each healthcare professional is a stakeholder and would beneöt from the whole cycle of initiatives we conduct. For instance, the Regulators beneöt from the wide experience our Regulatory Team has and that is shared through various symposia and sessions, enhancing the cooperation between the industry and the health authorities which helps introducing Innovative technologies.

Medical Personnel beneöt from the innovative technologies so that their patients can be diagnosed earlier, get treated more effiffifficiently and get well faster with better outcomes. They also have access to the training and education programs our members organize for the usage and application of these products in addition to the regular scientiöc updates during our Forum and other public activities targeting young Medical Professionals. All these activities are conducted within the scope of the business Ethics and Compliance code our members have signed up to while cooperating on transparency laws where applicable.

How do you facilitate the ideal atmosphere for mutual growth among its members, in compliance with regulations?

Our members observe a strict code with regards to communication and cooperation in respect to competition and locally observed laws.

Through our general meetings and through the various committees meetings, calls, forums and other activities our companies discuss means and ways to increase cooperation with local health authorities, the healthcare dynamics
in various territories and to review the common issues and voice their concerns and propose solutions to the authorities where applicable.

Mecomed serves as the voice of the industry and acts in many instances as the neutral bridge with various stakeholders with the Patient always as an apex point.

As a trade association what do you think could be the future of medical tech industry in the MEA region?

The MEA region is and will be witnessing one of the highest growth rates with regards to demand for various healthcare services due to the extraordinary increase of geriatric population, and the increasing incidences of conventional diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

Other major drivers include technological innovations and increasing demand and acceptance of such technologies in general and mostly in UAE, Saudi Arabia and others. Moreover, Patients are becoming more self-conscious about their diseases and about the latest solutions and many are demanding to have the best available technical products used in their case.

The MEA region is also witnessing a surge in the reimbursement pathways adapted in various and increasing number of countries to ensure higher quality healthcare. Major advances are witnessed in the regulatory landscape where Mecomed is supporting many countries in even the set up phases and capacity building with the help of our members and internationally recognized experts.

All these factors are increasing demand on the Medical Technology and we believe our members will greatly contribute to and beneöt from this growth.