Why South Africa's healthtech scene attracts worldwide attention
Part II: South Africa – in great shape and health
Having explored over 100 countries, Levison Wood FRGS has witnessed firsthand how rates of regional development differ — especially in health care. Which is why sharing specialist knowledge, healthtech and medical breakthroughs on a global level is critical. So why visit South Africa and what is unique about its health care progress? Levison tells CNBC Catalyst, “South Africa epitomizes transformation — its unique energy and world-class health experts drive constant change.”
Levison meets Professor Mashudu Tshifularo, head of otorhinolaryngology at the University of Pretoria, to find out why Pretoria is the center of medical innovation and a global stage for networking.
Levison is at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital (SBAH) where, in 2018, the Office of Health Standards awarded the institution the highest accolade for its quality of patient care and access to health care professionals. As part of the University of Pretoria, SBAH is a center for world-class surgeons and researchers — and where Levison meets Professor Mashudu Tshifularo who has performed the world’s first middle ear transplant using 3D printed bones.
Professor Tshifularo tells Levison: “This was not an overnight breakthrough — it’s the result of 10 years’ investing in research and state-of-the-art healthtech. Investment in 3D printing has massive potential — we have made history here in South Africa — and it is set to continue.”
According to McKinsey, 3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM) estimated economic impact is $100-250 billion by 2025, if today’s rate of adoption continues. With most potential in aerospace, auto, consumer goods and health care, disruptive technologies are making a global impact. MedTech Drive estimates that AM will be a core part of all major health care businesses within five to 10 years.
Professor Tshifularo and his team have 3D printed ossicles (inner-ear bones: hammer, anvil and stirrup) using titanium material. The procedure presents significantly fewer risks than traditional surgery and is hailed as an answer to conductive hearing loss. And it’s not the professor’s only “world-first”:
“What I am doing here, nobody else is doing,” Professor Tshifularo continues. “In 2008, I performed the world’s first bloodless endoscope-assisted tonsillectomy. My team includes experts from all disciplines — including jewelry designers for their precision design skills. The international medical community benefit from this knowledge-sharing and drive innovation in their own country. My research into further innovation is exciting. South Africa is very much open for business.”
LAmanda Kotze-Nhlapo, chief convention bureau officer at the The South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB), fully supports the idea of a South African cross-sector knowledge-sharing economy. “Our global conferences are inter-linked. Here you will see different sectors meet which leads to innovation.”
Professor Tshifularo has built a career pushing boundaries. He encourages Levison to “keep climbing mountains” and drive discovery. As a global explorer, Levison understands this sentiment: his expeditions include scaling the Himalayas and the Americas, walking from Russia to Iran across the caucuses and circumnavigating the entire Arabian Peninsula. South Africa, however, is largely unchartered territory for Levison. And so, with his day’s agenda done and room for one more adventure, Levison takes to paragliding off Signal Hill, Cape Town. The experience offers an epic vista of a region where epic innovation is clearly underway.
The primary focus of The SANCB is to grow world class business events in South Africa. As the host of COP17, FIFA World Cup, WEF, International AIDS conference, BRICS and many more, South Africa is fast-gaining a reputation for enabling and exporting the world’s next big ideas. Our focused MICE strategy (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) connects business leaders to the right audiences, skills and knowledge. Thanks to South Africa’s rich and diverse history and culture, delegates benefit from a truly innovative and unique experience. The SANCB supports all aspects of your conference, from planning to navigating government policy to marketing and launch.