Sub-Saharan African ultrasound market growing, to reach $47M by 2012

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Economic growth in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania, coupled with substantial donor funding targeted at healthcare improvement, has motivated the governments of the four countries to refurbish and improve their healthcare sectors, according to a report from market research firm Frost & Sullivan.

The report found that these factors are driving the development and growth of the ultrasound markets in these countries, and said that the market earned revenues of $26.6 million in 2006, estimating this to reach $47.2 million in 2012.

“As the benefits of government investment are felt in the public healthcare sector in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania, technology development is likely to play an increasingly important role in driving the ultrasound markets,” said Gavin Chait, Frost & Sullivan research analyst.

The shortage of qualified radiologists and sonographers, particularly in Kenya and Tanzania, is inhibiting the uptake of new ultrasound systems, which is compounded by the poor training of current students and is likely to further impact market growth in the short and medium term, the report found. The authors also wrote that despite potential demand for additional systems in hospitals and clinics because of higher patient volumes, providers are not in a position to purchase new equipment, due to human resource shortages and poor user capabilities.

"Ultrasound manufacturers and distributors in sub-Saharan Africa must provide funding and fellowships to medical students to drive the increased uptake of students into the medical profession in Africa," Chait said. "Similarly, they can enhance the skills of currently practicing ultrasound end users through the provision of training courses."

The report concluded that although the ultrasound market in sub-Saharan Africa is prevented from achieving maximum growth by the current poor status of healthcare on the continent, growth can significantly improve as the benefits of increased investment and economic growth start to materialize in the short to medium term.