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Where will affordable medical devices for low-income populations come from? Emerging role of social technologies

Kale, D   Mkwashi, A

DSA Conference 2015

Bath, UK

September 7 – 8 2015

Healthcare systems all over the world rely on drugs, vaccines and medical devices to provide effective and inclusive healthcare. In developing countries, the majority of research has focused on development of and access to pharmaceuticals and vaccines even though medical devices are a key component of health care technologies. Medical devices are critical for diagnosis, patient care in operating theatres, at the bedside, and even before a patient is admitted into hospital, or after being discharged. Yet, in the case of emerging and developing countries, the development of appropriate medical devices affordable to local populations and inequality of access to essential devices remains largely under-researched. This paper focuses on identifying factors that influence access to medical devices in developing countries, and a better assessment of barriers that hinder the objective of inclusive healthcare. Based on evidence from the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors, this paper argues that local production potentially offers a cost-effective pathway to improving access to medical devices and ultimately affordable healthcare in developing countries. However, it also reveals that without adequate supportive infrastructure and active government support, high costs of production and limited ability to meet local healthcare needs may persist. Using case studies of two public-private partnerships, this paper shows that emerging new institutional arrangements and partnerships linking local needs and local institutions with global resources can pave the way towards resolving unequal access to affordable and appropriate medical devices.

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