Tecmed Africa is marking its 25th anniversary, celebrating many successful innovations over the years, while looking forward to new ventures in African healthcare
Writer: Phoebe Calver
Project Manager: Callam Waller
Tecmed Africa is celebrating its 25th year of success and innovation within the Southern African healthcare industry and the Company is showing no signs of slowing down, with many new developments and product expansion planned on the horizon.
The Company was established in 1992 by Mr Mike Milford and Mr Werner Begere, who both were very experienced in the Medical field with international experience in Radiology and Oncology. So, in setting up Tecmed they both had the primary vision of introducing an independent diagnostic imaging company into the Southern African market with the intention of supplying state-of-the-art medical equipment at affordable prices to both private and government sectors.
In 1992 there were a number of international corporations represented in this region and many of whom had withdrawn from the country and left customers, hospitals and clinics without services and support. Toshiba’s x-ray imaging business was yet to be represented in Southern Africa and so it happened that the two gentlemen saw the opportunity to form a successful relationship with Toshiba Medical Systems in Japan by becoming their distribution partner for Southern Africa.
“The Company soon realised that it could easily expand from being only an x-ray imaging business and they brought Varian Oncology into the region,” explains Dave Saunders, Sales and Marketing Manager at Tecmed Africa. “From that point in time Tecmed developed into not only the leading Oncology division in the region but also grew a well established electro-medical business, which combined with our other products and services, enabling us to easily provide all the hospital departments’ needs.”
Tecmed has evolved dramatically to the current distributorship of more than 64 leading brands in the region. Additionally, Tecmed has developed a hospital turnkey division, that aids in the conceptualisation, planning, design and building of hospitals from the ground up.
“We have named it Tecmed Turnkey and due to that division, we have exploited the opportunity to expand our operations in Africa. Tecmed migrated to Tecmed Africa in the 2000s and along with our national offices in all major centres, expanded to offices in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya and Zambia.
“With the business expanding into sub-Saharan Africa, we felt there was a need to expand our operations and develop businesses such as Tecmed Engineering. This enabled us to focus on refurbishing CT scanners and oncology machines that can be sold to regions where cost restrictions remain a barrier to development in the Healthcare sector.
“CT scanners and Oncology machines are highly specialised, and the establishing of the Engineering division has set Tecmed apart from the rest in the industry. Tecmed Engineering is a registered CE operation, enabling it to refurbish and re-engineer machines and reload x-ray tubes. The re-manufacturing business has since evolved and expanded exponentially, allowing opportunities that have been able to complement our other the business activities considerably”
The Company’s core specialities include radiology, oncology, Medical IT and electro medicine, all of which Tecmed Africa consistently work to improve upon. These improvements include its local manufacturing division, local re-manufacturing and the refurbishment businesses.
“When it comes to diversification within the industry, Tecmed pharmaceuticals is a business that we have branched into, with pharmaceuticals proving to be a very large and multifaceted industry,” affirms Saunders. “There is definitely a need to create more readily available medication in Africa, and with the development of generics, and more affordable products are being made available to the market.”
It is important to remember that despite these core specialities, Tecmed Africa is not a hospital operator. It specialises in the development of hospitals, equipping of those hospitals, training of the staff both clinically and functionally to use the equipment, and can assist in finding hospital operators interested in running such hospitals.
The majority of business for the Company is located in Southern Africa, predominantly operating in local markets and using its footprint there as a launchpad for the rest of its sub-Saharan Africa territories. From this position, Tecmed Africa has been able to make substantial investment in many of the neighbouring countries.
“Similarly through investment into Tecmed Engineering, we have been able to develop and manufacture new products to market, using new technology and newly developed systems that are the first in the world of their kind,” explains Saunders. “Our plan is to export this technology around the world. We are particularly excited about the inclusion of Ecovert, a waste management and disposal system that enables us to turn medical waste into non-hazardous by product.”
“From the perspective of South Africa, our country has a well advanced economy and it is similar to working in a westernised market within Africa,” adds Saunders. “We tend to follow the trends within Europe and the US closely, with South African specialists regularly visiting and working in those economies.”
Tecmed has to be particularly careful with the technology and projects that it chooses to work on, with budgets and availability of capital in African countries often being limited, therefore, after the product is established within the local environment and proven to work, it is rolled out for sale in those regions. Reliability and value for money is key to those economies.
Of course, with equipment of such high importance as the products that Tecmed produces, the correct training is incredibly important to ensure everything runs smoothly within the hospitals that Tecmed Africa is servicing.
“In terms of training, the majority of our staff have been specialists in their respective fields before joining the Company, therefore we are able to perform specific training for the aspect they are working on,” continues Saunders. “We have many different facets to the Company, including amongst others our administration and operations department, sales, application specialists and technical staff.”
Personal development is also incredibly important at Tecmed, particularly when it comes to knowing the products. The Company’s technical, application and sales specialists are trained internationally and certified. In-house training, when it relates to internal staff, there is a commitment to up-skilling those staff. The market can be very difficult and Tecmed prides itself on having highly trained and able staff.
“Carrying out our business in Africa has its challenges, particularly when it comes to concluding business deals, which is why it is incredibly important to have the right people keeping the Company’s momentum going,” concludes Saunders. “Despite the difficulties we often face when it comes to payment in Africa, it always remains paramount to us that we do not delay the delivery of our equipment and spare parts to our customers. Working in the medical field and often in emergency environments allows us to ensure that the eventual customer, the patients, are not disadvantaged at all. This is a fact will always be at the forefront of our minds in everything that we do.
“Our staff are trained to under promise and over achieve. We endeavour to “ Delight” all our customers.”