New 'action plan' aims to boost sovereign manufacturing capability for diagnostics

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MTPConnect and Pathology Technology Australia (PTA) have released an action plan that aims to establish a sovereign manufacturing capability for diagnostic products in Australia.

The plan makes recommendations to achieve the goal of a flourishing sovereign diagnostics manufacturing ecosystem. It is the culmination of extensive consultation with more than 140 stakeholders nationwide and direct contributions from those at the frontline.

MTPConnect CEO Stuart Dignam said the plan’s findings, data-driven assessments and innovative recommendations will profoundly impact the sector's future success.

“Australia is also home to some of the world’s leading diagnostics research and development, yet our healthcare system remains vulnerable to a chronic reliance on overseas manufacturers and suppliers to deliver the diagnostics products on which the health of our population and protection of our biosecurity depends,” said Mr Dignam.

“The plan we have prepared with PTA capitalises on the local industry’s existing strengths, while prioritising innovation, boosting expertise and reducing investment risk.

“It outlines a framework for enhancing the diagnostic infrastructure, supporting commercialisation of new innovations, improving access to testing, and strengthening the regulatory framework for diagnostic products and services.

“With the implementation of these practical initiatives to build a resilient domestic diagnostics sector, we can not only help to protect the health of Australians but also foster the growth of dynamic, globally significant companies, create new high-paying jobs and spur economic growth in a field where Australia has already shown its competitiveness,” he said.

Key recommendations from the report, Diagnostic Technology Sovereign Capability and Resilience: A National Action Plan, include establishing a fund to support the commercialisation and in-country manufacture of diagnostic products.

It also recommends the creation of a Diagnostics Advisory Council to inform the government, building a coordinated Nationwide Diagnostics Policy across states and territories, and implementing Procurement Practices to harness federal, state and territory government purchasing power to prioritise local diagnostic products and stimulate domestic manufacturing.

PTA CEO Dean Whiting explained that the plan aims to address key supply chain resilience issues facing the health security of Australia and its ability to produce critical diagnostic tests onshore.

“In Australia, accessible and effective diagnostic technologies – from pregnancy tests and blood glucose monitors to rapid antigen and PCR tests – play a critical role in detecting, diagnosing and monitoring diseases,” said Mr Whiting.

“The report found that we import more than 95 per cent of diagnostic tests and technologies. The pandemic brought into focus Australia’s parlous state with respect to our sovereign high-tech manufacturing capability and supply chain security to ensure availability of these technologies.

“And while the pandemic has subsided, the supply chain vulnerabilities remain, so this Action Plan thoroughly investigates the barriers to commercialising diagnostic devices in Australia and makes a range of recommendations for remediating them.

“Rapid action on this plan will see Australia better placed to manage future health emergencies and critical supply disruptions and by strengthening our diagnostic capability, we also increase our ability to compete in global markets and boost our national prosperity.”

The National Action Plan is delivered by MTPConnect in partnership with PTA and supported by HTANALYSTS. Download a copy of the report here.