Medical equipment distribution in Africa

Medical service providers in African countries often face a shortage of essential but costly medical equipment like MRI and CT scanners. According to a survey of WHO member states, only 11 percent of the respondent countries in Africa had at least one MRI machine per million people.

The meagre availability of advanced medical equipment is one of the key weaknesses of the African healthcare system.

  • The dearth of equipment in sub-Saharan and other African countries is primarily due to the lack of funds, and financial institutions are setting up facilities to help healthcare providers easily access funds.
  • The other issue is the lack of knowledge on what equipment to purchase, where to purchase and at what price. Most African healthcare providers are small and medium businesses, and sourcing medical equipment can be daunting.

Bridging the financing and knowledge gap is critical to help medical providers access the equipment required. International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s Global Health Platform has opened the gates for medical providers to access funds, knowledge and equipment.

On the brighter side, the authorities have the following regulations in most African countries to ensure the high quality and reliability of medical equipment procured:

  • Medical equipment distributors need to adhere to the regulatory procedures established by the national medicines regulatory authorities regulating medical devices.
  • Risk-based device classification: Countries like Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia and South Africa have a 4-level risk assessment. Manufacturers and distributors seeking to enter markets in this region need to undergo the device classification.
  • Conformity to the essential principles and standards for medical devices is mandatory for all manufacturers and distributors. They must ensure performance safety, patient safety, durability, performance assurance, risk assessment and mitigation, etc.
  • Countries like Kenya require that the medical equipment not licensed in 1 of the 5 IMDRF founding members (United States, European Union, Canada, Japan, or Australia) must demonstrate conformity to WHO guidelines or to a quality management system used in IMDRF countries.
  • Manufacturers, importers, and distributors of medical equipment must be registered with the national medicines regulatory authorities to ensure better monitoring and postmarket inspection of medical devices to maintain adherence to quality standards over time.  
  • Import control ensures that the medical devices are approved before their shipment and entry. This assures that the imported equipment conforms to the regulatory standards.
  • The distributors also need to conform to the postmarket controls in place that regulate the inspection, advertising, and labelling of devices, etc.

HealME is a leader in international standard hospital equipment and furniture distribution. Associating with professionally managed hospital equipment distributors in Africa, we now have on ground representationin Kenya and Nairobi through leading healthcare equipment providers.

We have supported healthcare providers across the Middle East with a wide range of medical consumables, furniture, equipment, and healthcare technology, and look forward to further positioning inventory across various hubs in Africa and are seeking distribution and stocking hubs in Central Africa, West Africa and North Africa.


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