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Business News/ News / India/  How covid-19 impacted India’s idea for becoming Atmanirbhar for medical devices

NEW DELHI : The National Medical Devices Promotion Council launched in 2018 to give fillip to the medical devices sector and boost domestic manufacturing has only managed to meet only once. The first meeting of the National Medical Devices Promotion Council, that was supposed to meet every quarter, was held under the Chairmanship of Guruprasad Mohapatra, Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and industry on 14 January 2020. Soon after the covid-19 pandemic hit India that further impacted the council’s functions and pace.

According to the minutes of the first meeting, Secretary, DPIIT directed that the Council shall meet quarterly to discuss the activities of the council with the next meeting of the Council to be held in the month of February, 2020. Mint has reviewed the copy of the minutes of the meeting.

The officials during the meeting decided that the next meeting of the Council, NITI Aayog will share a brief legislative view of the Draft Biomedical Devices Bill; Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to brief on the current regulatory regime under The Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940 and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Quality Council of India (QCI) to point out the adequacy of the current regulatory regime. “It was decided that separate meeting can be called to conduct discussion on public procurement order including the one on Medical Devices issued by the Department of Pharmaceuticals," the minutes of the meeting said.

The council hasn’t met after January. To give a fillip to the medical device sector, which is a sunrise sector, the government announced setting up of the National Medical Devices Promotion Council under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in the Ministry of Commerce & Industry in December 2018.

With government’s own admission, the Medical Devices Industry (MDI) plays a critical role in the healthcare ecosystem and is indispensable to achieve the goal of health for all citizens of the country. The manufacturing and trade in MDI is growing steadily which includes a wide range of products. Although the industry has been growing in double digits but is predominantly import-driven with imports accounting for over 65% of the domestic market, according to the government.

“We just had one meeting of the Council before covid-19. Council is not expected to meet frequently and it deliberated on long term policy in this area," said Ravinder, Joint Secretary, DPIIT.

As Indian manufacturing companies and start-ups move towards creating innovative products, the setting-up of the Council is aimed to spur domestic manufacturing in this sector. The aims of the council are to enable entry of emerging interventions and support certifications for manufacturers to reach levels of global trade norms and lead India to an export driven market in the sector. The council is meant to support dissemination and documentation of international norms and standards for medical devices, by capturing the best practices in the global market and facilitate domestic manufacturers to rise to international level of understanding of regulatory and non-regulatory needs of the industry. Further the council is supposed to make recommendations to government based on industry feedback and global practices on policy and process interventions to strengthen the medical technology sector, including trade interventions for related markets.

“We had and have high hopes from Medical Devices Promotion Council which could promote manufacturing and exports of medical devices and on behalf of manufacturers and medical Devices associations to do inter-ministry coordination for addressing our issues of unviability to invest in many projects due to very low import duties, lack of preference in public procurement on basis of quality certification or indigenous innovation, support on quality testing infrastructure, curbs on imports of preowned medical equipment so that instead of 42000 Crore imports we not only manufacture these in India but also export," said Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator at the Association of Indian Medical Devices Industry, or AiMeD.

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Updated: 05 Nov 2020, 07:47 PM IST
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