Turkey aims to maintain the annual medical product exports amount of $5 billion last year in the following years amid fierce competition with China, medical suppliers’ federation head Erkin Delikanlı has said.
“Last year, 128 countries requested medical supply donations, export permits, or purchases from Turkey. Mistrust of China, which is the leader in the medical equipment and product sector, caused a shift of interest toward Turkey in 2020,” said Delikanlı, head of the Federation of All Medical Equipment Producer and Supplier Associations (TÜMDEF) on April 19.
“We made use of that opportunity pretty well,” he added.
Turkey’s medical supplies exports skyrocketed from $650 million in 2019 to $5 billion last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, as the Chinese economy recovered at a fast pace since then, Turkey’s medical exports are expected to drop to $2 billion this year, Delikanlı said.
As part of an economic reform action plan revealed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on March 12, Turkey has established the Health Industries Presidency.
“This department will be in charge of the competitive development and production of many strategic materials from pharmaceuticals to vaccines and from medical devices to biotechnological products using domestic means,” Erdoğan said.
The new presidency will bring huge advantages to improve competitiveness against China, Delikanlı said.
“Our initial target is to make the level of $5 billion exports permanent,” he added.
With other sectoral stakeholders, TÜMDEF will convey its suggestions to the presidency, Delikanlı also said.
Mechanical ventilator used by over 30 countries
A mechanical ventilator made by four Turkish firms led by Biosys under the coordination of the Turkish government is now in use in over 30 countries, said Cemal Erdoğan, the firm’s founder, yesterday.
Ankara-based Biosys had developed and produced mechanical ventilators between 2012 and 2017. After the COVID-19 pandemic began and the need for ventilators grew, the firm started mass production with the help of fellow firms Arçelik, Aselsan and Baykar. The Health Ministry and the Industry and Technology Ministry supported the collaboration.
The pandemic has dramatically raised the need for mechanical ventilators, now produced in Turkey under the name Biyovents.
The first 5,000 devices were made by Turkish appliances giant Arçelik, then Aselsan continued the mass production, the founder said, adding that a total of 20,000 devices have rolled off the assembly line so far.
These devices are used throughout Turkey and also in many other countries, he stated.
“If domestic production had not been ensured, it would have been very difficult to get the required devices,” he told the state-run Anadolu Agency, noting that only a few companies were able to produce these devices when the pandemic appeared suddenly.
Mentioning how some countries implemented restrictions to meet their own needs in this area, he said the locally made Biyovents met both domestic and foreign needs and are now in use in over 30 countries.
He also said that half of Biyovents’ total production was exported, while some of the ventilators were donated to countries in need.