• Over 350 regional experts at 4th MENA MedTech Forum called for immediate action at government and private sectors, to keep pace with the wave of digital transformation impacting the healthcare sector
• “The UAE Ministry of Health supports such conferences, that bring together key industry leaders to discuss how we can ready ourselves for a digital future” said HE Dr. Salem Abdul Rahman Al Darmaki, Advisor to the UAE Minister of Health and Prevention

Under the patronage of His Excellency Dr. Salem Abdul Rahman Al Darmaki, Advisor to UAE Minister of Health and Prevention, MENA MedTech Forum, the region’s largest forum for Medical Technology came to a close today, after two days of continuous deliberations and workshops to discuss the future of digital healthcare, and its opportunities and challenges for the region.

Experts from across the world, and MedTech industry executives from the MENA region, pledged to join forces to boost digital transformation of healthcare systems across the region, at the 4th MENA MedTech Forum, which took place at Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Center in Dubai Healthcare City on 25th and 26th April.

Organized by Mecomed – the medical devices, imaging and diagnostics trade association for the Middle East and Africa, the forum also had experts address key topics including cybersecurity for medical devices, value-based healthcare, unleashing talent potential and Innovative Digital Health Technology.

Delivering the keynote address on the role of governments in fostering science and medical innovation, His Excellency Dr. Salem Abdul Rahman Al Darmaki, Advisor to the UAE Minister of Health and Prevention, said, ”Healthcare needs innovation, not architectural creations. Right now, digitization and innovation is a crucial driver of growth within this sector. I’m glad that organisations such as Mecomed, and other industry representatives are actively supporting this agenda. Digital health methods and applications are at the forefront of addressing myriad healthcare challenges across many countries, including the increasing battle against chronic diseases and the pressure to reduce healthcare spend.”

The 4th edition of the annual forum was themed ‘global trend of healthcare digitization and its impact on the MENA region’. While many firms regionally are working towards inducing the power of digital health within the sector, the promise of digital healthcare also raises legal and practical issues which require regulations from the industry and regulators within the MENA region.

“Technology and innovation have been a pivotal force in the growth of the medical industry, and in making significant contributions to the welfare of society. This region is poised for fast-tracked growth through innovation across all sectors. We believe that it is important to encourage discourse on crucial aspects that help regulate and pave the way for the future of the MedTech industry. This year, the MENA MedTech Forum discussed some effective solutions into how we can work together to create effective regulations and deliver great value to the patients of this region” said Dr. Rami Rajab, Chairman of Mecomed.

Post the keynote, a panel discussion between Neil O’Flaherty, Partner at Baker & McKenzie, Maher Abouzeid, President and CEO, Eastern Growth Markets, GE Healthcare; and Jim Massey, Innovator, Healthcare Advisory Practice, Cerner Middle East, were seen debating the current benefits of digital healthcare in the MENA region and how the industry can address potential problems and pitfalls within this emerging field.

Another engaging seminar was that of Paul Epping, Principal Consultant at Philips Healthcare, who underpinned the importance of cybersecurity for medical devices. From manufacturing devices and developing software, to installing and connecting these devices, all steps need to be secure and easily monitored. Paul added, “A medical device is not a stand-alone entity, but is linked to our hyper connected society. Which means that the data produced by, and exchanged with other sources, are exposed to various risk factors. The entire process needs to be secure and regulated to ensure utmost safety and security in the cyber world.”

This year, Mecomed also focused on value-based healthcare to ensure optimal use of resources wherein the focus in decision-making includes a broader value perspective instead of a mere focus on price. In this session, a panel representing different stakeholders provided their insights on the benefits and challenges in implementing such a framework.

Speaking at a discussion on ‘How can MENA region keep pace with MedTech innovation?’, Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi, Executive Director, Dubai Science Park, and Chairing Member of the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Equipment Taskforce of the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030, said “We are honoured to have partnered with Mecomed for this year’s MENA MedTech Forum – a leading health and medical technology event that attracts hundreds of industry professionals from the government, academia and business with every edition”.

“It was extremely insightful to discuss the impact of digitization of healthcare as part of the panel, and to explore innovative ways for the region, particularly Dubai’s healthcare sector to gain a competitive advantage through the use of technology, while leveraging the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 to help achieve this goal. We thank the organisers for a successful event and look forward to another fruitful collaboration next year” he added.

Mecomed represents 37 MedTech manufacturers operating in the MEA region, and has been working towards ensuring the highest standard of ethics in business practice, having recently adopted a new code of Ethical Business practice to institute policy changes that affect how MedTech companies support the training and education of Healthcare Professionals in the region.

In addition, Mecomed members have recently decided on expanding their reach to include the Sub-Saharan Africa region, to have a wider reach across the region and support a greater level of regulation that ensures safe products, and latest innovations reach patients and healthcare professionals.
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