Economic Opportunities Minister Alan Winde and Health Minister Nomafrench Mbombo addressed the Public Private Health Forum at Lentegeur Hospital, where they announced investment of up to R600m in the development of the Cape Health Technology Park.
The Cape Health Technology Park is set to be located in Pinelands and “presents a significant opportunity to support health innovation,” according to Winde. “This health technology hub will bring together research and development firms, universities, academic hospitals, government and the private sector to drive innovation.”
The facility is expected to generate up to 5,000 jobs and add R4bn into the local economy. The project is moving to the next stage of feasibility and preparation work for land acquisition has started.
Winde went on to say, “We are confident this collaboration will lead to the development of new firms and intellectual properties, which will establish our region as a globally competitive centre of health innovation.”
Dr Adrian McCann, Western Cape Regional Manager for ER Consulting, who manage the Vincent Pallotti and Kingsbury Hospital emergency units said to CBN, “Innovative use of emerging technologies can, and should, be opening up novel solutions to some of South Africa’s (and by extension Africa’s) healthcare problems.”
Winde went on to expand on the economic impact of health innovation on the local and national markets.
“There is [a] massive potential in the medical tourism industry with a specific focus on Africa,” contextualised Winde.
He pointed out that the majority (43%) of the country’s medical device manufacturers are already based in the Western Cape. This industry exports around R1bn worth of equipment every year, but imports around R11bn – showing a glaring trade deficit of well over R9bn that could be serviced by local industry. This according to a study by Deloitte, commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI.)
“It is our goal to harness our strengths to ensure that the production and use of local content is prioritized,” stated Winde.
“Working with newly qualified doctors and experienced practitioners alike, I can tell you that there is no lack of talent and creativity within the medical field itself. Paired with entrepreneurial and technical skills from across the region, I am excited to see what will develop from this project,” McCann continued.
South African medical innovations have long garnered international acclaim, including the world’s first heart transplant in 1967 by Dr Chris Barnard (who later became a professor) and more recently the first penis transplant.
Local doctors have also scooped international awards for their Mobile Triage App, which was piloted at the Khayelitsha District Hospital.
South Africa is also seeing an emerging tele-medicine sector where doctors are available for consultation over the telephone as a solution to the scarcity of qualified doctors in remote areas.
By Kristy Jooste