Saturday, 01 October 2022

In Industry

Zambia Must get Medical Supplies from South Africa

As the new dispensation of the Zambian economics rolls out, there is need to look to affordable sources of necessities like medical supplies, acquiring them from partner economies like South Africa as opposed to overseas. The South African medical supplies industry has advanced, making exporters like Telox Medical Supplies to provide affordable products to SADC partner economies.


Telox Medical Supplies is a medical supplies wholesale business, specialising in consumables, pharmaceutical accessories, toiletries, and medical equipment in South Africa. Telox provides affordable and accessible surgical, diagnostic, pharmaceutical accessories and personal care products across South Africa and other parts of the region. 


Telox (Pty) Ltd, trading as "Telox Medical Supplies" is privately black wholly owned South African Company, founded in 2013, and has grown in product range and clientele, becoming a professional supplier of medical consumables in both the Government and Private sector. 


Telox Medical Supplies is licensed to import Medical Supplies, and Pharmaceutical Accessories from across the globe at affordable rates. They offer a wide range of products namely Disposable trocars, Disposable laparoscopic instruments, Retrievable bags, Veress needles, Reusable laparoscopic instruments used in laparoscopy, urology, gynecology and general surgery.


Zambia has five to seven pharmaceutical manufacturers, that also lead in other medical supplies. The increased demand of medicines and medical supplies in theatre rooms, clinics and hospitals must be addressed by importing from advanced African economies like South Africa, to ease pressure, and reduce the cost of overseas imports of medical supplies.


According to the Fitch Zambia Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Report, Zambia's economy is expected to return to growth in 2021, following the full-year recession in 2020, we caution that spending on non-essential pharmaceuticals and medical services will remain constrained. The government will work to secure Covid-19 vaccines, but the strained fiscal situation and local currency weakness mean that the country is likely to require the support of international bodies and agencies to ensure an adequate and timely supply.


Health systems in Zambia are classified into three major categories: First Level comprising of Health Posts, Rural Health Centre and District Hospitals, where primary health care and preventive health services are provided. Second Level comprising the provincial and general hospitals, which provide the curative care Tertiary level comprising Central hospital and the National University teaching Hospital. Provide specialized care. 


Has over 110 health facilities including hospitals, health centres, health posts, and community-based organizations. Has 11 health training schools, most of which are staffed by Government of Zambia health workers. Government-run health facilities, which provide the majority of the health care in Zambia, offer a basic health care package free-of-charge or on a cost-sharing basis. Services included in the basic health care package are provided free-of-charge or on a cost-sharing basis, depending on the location and level of the system. In rural districts, these services are free. 


Zambia has over 250 for-profit private health facilities mostly clinics attending to outpatients mainly in the urban districts. The private sector accounts for just 14 percent of all health facilities nationally


However, Zambia has a very limited number of laboratories dotted around the country in hospital premises, and these fail to meet national and international standards due to lack of basic inputs and maintenance.


The solutions are not complex when we consider Public Private Partnerships, and also outsourcing products from economies like South Africa. South Africa is the big brother economy of most African countries in Southern and East Africa, and Zambian medical industry players must tap into it as the Retail and FMCG has over the years.


There are several opportunities in the various market segments of the industry in question, with projections of post-Covid growths of 30% to 51% ranging the segments’ products, in South Africa and in Sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa is the most dominant player in these markets in Africa. The demand for medical devices is driven by increased health problems and the rising cost of healthcare which stimulates development of innovative products such as wearable medical devices, and demand for early detection and non-invasive therapies.


Zambia can tap into the SADC protocols in place that allow the acquisition of affordable medical supplies. The SADC Pooled Procurement Services (SPPS) became a reality after an MOU was signed in 2018 for the pooled procurement of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, hosted by the Medical Stores Department of the United Republic of Tanzania and is expected to reduce the cost of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies in the Region.


South Africa is the primary business hub for the medical device industry in Sub-Saharan Africa. A substantial portion of medical device and lab equipment exports are sent to other parts of Africa, with 12 African nations featuring in its top 20 export destinations last year.


Zambia is a less developed market than South Africa, especially medically. Underdeveloped markets offer growth potential, but face considerable constraints, including severe financing problems, weak infrastructure, shortages of personnel (especially in the public sector), and difficulties; leveraging on relationships with South African exporters like Telox Medical Supplies help meet demands of the market. 


Zambia is a politically stable, multi-party democracy, rich in natural resources with an estimated population of 17.2 million, 42 percent of which live in urban areas. During the same period, Zambia’s main import partner was South Africa, followed by China, United Arab Emirates, India, Democratic Republic of Congo and Japan. As the largest trade partner to Zambia, South African medical suppliers are better positioned to meet the medical equipment and accessories need of the market.


Telox Medical Supplies has a diversified product range, and network able to wholesale and distribution of medical devices and pharmaceutical accessories such as Rapid Diagnostics Kits, Medical Devices, Medical Disposables, Rehabilitation Products, Diagnostics Imaging, Lab Products, Hospital Holloware, Surgical Instruments and Autoclaves, Hospital Furniture, Mortuary Products and Personal Care.


According to the US Trade Department, the available opportunities in South Africa include Cost effective and innovative detection and treatment for cancer and other non-communicable diseases (NCD); Cost effective and innovative surgical equipment; Advanced surgical technologies, robot-assisted surgeries to improve outcomes and address skills shortage (likely more in the private sector); Developing local manufacturing for medical devices and medicines (Public- Private Partnerships); and Vertical integration of larger healthcare providers to control costs of their supply chain by owning more of it (mergers, acquisitions, partnerships) and using technology.


Sources: Telox, US Trade, Cabanga, Fitch

Cabanga Media Group publishes of thoughtful economic and business commentary magazines and online media, in several African markets, that include South Africa, Botswana, East Africa Community, Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria, and Zambia.