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Vizag’s MedTech zone – Saving lives, serving the nation

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to severe shortages of many essential goods and services, from N-95 masks and diagnostic tests to medical oxygen and ventilators. The shortage of life-saving equipment and other essential supplies has flagged serious concerns about preventing the spread of coronavirus and its impact on the affected patients. While the crisis has placed these unparalleled demands, the pandemic has also provided means to strengthen the healthcare industry with opportuni­ties for innovation and cost efficiencies. There were individuals and organizations that responded with resilience, rose to the occasion, and matched the needs and beyond.

To tide over the crisis, the solution was a rapid escalation of manufacturing. This rapid escalation was to be made at a time when prominent economies around the globe had enforced total lockdown, disrupting global production and supply chain systems.

The MedTech zone in Vizag, an established medical techno­logy manufacturing ecosystem, had all that it takes to make things happen, and rose to the occasion. The common scientific facilities (CSFs) and the common manu­facturing facilities (CMFs), which include specialized laboratories, warehousing, and testing centers that were pre-existing in the campus, were the added advantages for the mission AMTZ had committed itself to.

The key USPs of the campus are its common scientific industrial laboratories, such as the center for electromagnetic compatibility and safety testing, center for biomaterial testing, center for 3-D printing, centers for lasers, MRI coils, gamma irradiation, molding, and many other industrial service centers.

When the pandemic outbreak happened, there were no standard specifications for essential products for the fight against the pandemic, and India was majorly dependent on imports for ventilators, PPE kits, N-95 masks and so on. Today, when the nation has emerged as the second-largest PPE manufacturer in the world and has grown self-sufficient in ventilators and N-95 masks, the role played by AMTZ is unique and crucial.

AMTZ contributes by producing over a million diagnostic kits every day, which is a mammoth capacity. While container hospitals and mobile diagnostic labs are produced every week, this single campus can produce over 100 ventilators, 500 oxygen concentrators, 1-lac N-95 masks, 5000 PPE kits and 10-lac RT-PCR kits in just a day. However, the real strength of AMTZ is not just products for pandemic but a broader ambit of the healthcare value chain. For example, AMTZ also makes superconducting magnets for MRI and multiple other medical care products. Led by the Department of Biotechnology as part of Command Strategy, AMTZ aims to produce over 10,000-crore worth of medical equipment per annum. That is almost 25 percent of India’s import dependency. Under the DBT AMTZ Command Center, over 10 crore RT-PCR kits and thousands of ventilators are produced and supplied to states across India, and also to other countries dependent on Indian supplies.

Another initiative, a mobile diagnostic unit – I-Lab (infectious diseases diagnostic lab) with a biosafety facility capable of RT-PCR, ELISA and 30 more tests – was introduced to ensure ease of testing in rural areas. Ventilators and oxygen concentrators were manufactured round the clock in the zone to ensure the availability of these critical medical devices for treatment. Container hospitals were built in the zone to ensure the availability of beds during crucial times. Over 20 states in India have ventilators manufactured at AMTZ.

In the recent past, when access to oxygen emerged as one of the key challenges this country was facing, AMTZ introduced the pan-India affordable oxygen concentrator rental program called O2Home. An app available on Android and iOS platforms enables its users to rent oxygen concentrators on a per-day basis. AMTZ has partnered with Uber to ensure the last-mile delivery of oxygen concentrators. Uber’s extensive mobility network ensures oxygen support is delivered to every home swiftly and efficiently. The service is now available in 25 cities across India.

Medical technology has become a sector that has survived the uncertainties of economic turbulence as well as showcased its life-saving capacity for social good. AMTZ stands tall today by virtue of its servitude to the country in protecting the health of people by supplying affordable, accessible, and good-quality products across multiple states, hospitals in geographies. We remain committed to deliver independence from import dependency and make India a proud leader in medical technology development and production.