June 7, 2022
Molecular diagnostics (MDx) is the application of the molecular biology technique used in the study of human diseases, including infectious diseases, inherited conditions as well as cancer. The molecular diagnostics research focuses on genomic and proteomic analysis to identify the disease biomarkers, thereby creating better diagnostic assays that ultimately find new treatments and potential cures. The techniques used in the molecular diagnostic applications comprise core molecular biology methods, for instance, nucleic acid isolation and quantification, PCR amplification, sequencing, and STR analysis.
MDx utilizes powerful tools such as gene expression profiling, DNA sequence analysis, and the detection of biomarkers to determine the susceptibility of individuals to certain diseases or an existing disease stage. Various conventional tests have been replaced by molecular testing methods in many areas of laboratory medicine, including clinical chemistry, infectious diseases, cancer, and clinical genetics. Molecular diagnostic testing will continue to enhance the accuracy and speed with which the detection of microbial infections or study of a patient’s genes is possible and is becoming an increasingly important part of patient-tailored treatments and medicines. It is one of the essential techniques used in hospitals, clinical laboratories, and other healthcare modalities for the identification and analysis of disease.
The molecular diagnostics market in the MENA region is undoubtedly the most rapidly rising segment of the in vitro diagnostics industry owing to the various developments in the reagents, kits, and instruments, along with the introduction of a wide array of newer products for the disease management. The introduction of cost-effective and automated systems comprising developed amplification methods will also drive the rate of market penetration and growth.
Speaking of the COVID-19 impact on the MENA healthcare sector, MENA countries have made several updates to their healthcare sector. For instance, the UAE healthcare sector has undergone substantial infrastructure and procedural changes to elevate itself as a global leader in healthcare service providers. As per the Dubai Health Authority report 2021, in order to expand capacity for COVID-19 patients, the UAE government created many field hospitals. On April 18, 2020, the Dubai Field Hospital in the Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC) opened its doors. Four field hospitals were opened in the northern emirates by the end of April 2020, expanding capacity by 5,000 beds. The improvements have been more recently recognized during the COVID-19 pandemic as there have been continued investments made to improve the sector’s hard and soft infrastructure. The UAE government also launched an interactive health map that includes data for 13 drive-through COVID-19 testing centers in addition to hospitals, healthcare centers, and clinics across the country. Thus, with the rise in facilities, the demand and need for testing will also increase, subsequently increasing the demand for analyzers and kits, which is expected to positively impact the market.
Along with significantly impacting the healthcare operations in the region, COVID-19 has entailed tightening of financial operations, which has decreased the economic activity in the region. However, although this situation is likely to continue for a while, the leading healthcare payers are constantly making investments, building partnerships, and exploring acquisition feasibility in an effort to expand the business models and contain costs as the world shifts to hybrid care models in the future.
Of note, the UAE in 2020 reported an increase of 8% in the insurance premiums, thereby accelerating the inflation rate. The Dubai healthcare expenditure is also rising, and the regional payers are modifying the reimbursement policies to accelerate the shift to value-based reimbursement models.
Molecular Diagnostics Market drivers in the MENA
The MDx market in the MENA region is driven primarily due to the rising prevalence of infectious diseases and various cancers and the increase in research and development activities and funding in the molecular diagnostics domain. Traditionally, culture-based techniques are considered to be the gold standards for pathogen detection. However, the longer turnaround time associated with these techniques due to the overnight culturing and the pathogen isolation tends to limit the demand up to a certain extent. In the past few years, the development and application of molecular diagnostic techniques have resulted in a revolution in diagnosing and monitoring the infectious form of diseases. The product launches and acquisitions pertaining to the molecular diagnostics market are also considered the most widely adopted market strategies by the market players.
The molecular diagnostic testing for the COVID-19 has been considered the key to the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since testing remains a crucial step in the containment of the disease, the government organizations in all the countries in the MENA region are thereby supporting the laboratories in streamlining the COVID-19 testing procedures. In line with this, the specific country regulatory authorities have utilized the methods to speed up the approval of the molecular diagnostic products. Moreover, major companies have undertaken strategic development initiatives to introduce COVID-19 rapid tests and nullify the impact of the COVID-19 on their operational capabilities, thereby helping in the containment efforts to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Apart from that, the severity of the crisis and the rising capacity issues associated with PCR-based testing have also accelerated the development of rapid diagnostic solutions to meet the demands for mass testing. Consequently, companies have also scaled up their operations for the testing and tracking of the COVID-19.
The rising healthcare expenditure and the rising adoption of the analyzers and software for molecular diagnostics will also create an opportunity for the Middle East and African Molecular Diagnostic market. Further, rising awareness about prenatal genetic testing for the early detection of chromosomal abnormalities during pregnancy has also led to an enhancement in the use of molecular diagnostics in the MENA region.
Epidemiological insights in MENA countries that demand Molecular Diagnostics
- According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the adult diabetes prevalence in 2021 was 18.7% in Saudi Arabia. IDF reported Saudi Arabia to be the seventh-highest country for new cases of type-1 diabetes every year.
- As per the GLOBOCAN statistics in the year 2020, the number of new cancer cases in Saudi Arabia had accounted for about 27,885 people and the number of deaths due to cancer was observed to be 13,069.
- As per the World Bank statistics in 2019, the incidence of people suffering from tuberculosis was 9.9 per 100,000 people in Saudi Arabia.
- As per the World Bank Statistics, the incidence of people suffering from tuberculosis was 1 per 100,000 people in the UAE in 2020.
- As per the World Bank Statistics, the incidence of people suffering from tuberculosis was 8 per 100,000 people in Saudi Arabia in 2020.
- According to the research article “Seroprevalence of Viral Hepatitis B and C among Blood Donors in the Northern Region of Riyadh Province, Saudi Arabia,” in 2021 written by Alqahtani et al., the overall prevalence of HBV and HCV in Saudi Arabia accounts for 3.2%, and 1.2% respectively for the year 2020.
Due to the factors mentioned above, including a surge in chronic disorders and infectious diseases, the market for diagnosis and monitoring of such diseases is expected to expand in the MENA region. Moreover, as the COVID-19 outbreak has led to a sense of urgency worldwide, including the MENA region, molecular diagnostic techniques have become indispensable to cater to the increased demand for SARS-Cov2 diagnosis.
The MDx technology will revamp the healthcare scenario of the Middle East countries. Even the molecular diagnostic technology will be paramount in completing the vision of an integrated healthcare system proposed by the Saudi government, thereby instigating operational efficiency and cost savings across public and private healthcare ecosystems.
Steps that were taken by the various governments in MENA to raise awareness regarding molecular diagnostics testing
Various steps have been taken specifically by various governments of the MENA region to improve the molecular diagnostics market in the MENA region. In response to the growing demand for molecular diagnostics in the MENA countries, the national and international governments across the MENA countries have taken key initiatives such as increasing insurance coverage towards a “universalized coverage” system, construction of 50–60 major hospitals, rising private-sector involvement, and investment in healthcare services. These initiatives are instrumental in the increase in molecular diagnostics demand and forecasted growth of the molecular diagnostics market in the MENA regions. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Ministry of Health has planned an expenditure of approximately SAR 23 Billion on the upcoming initiatives within the healthcare industry in the coming years. The Saudi Arabian government has also set the target for privatizing around 295 hospitals and 2,259 healthcare facilities by 2030, as per the Saudi Vision 2030 plan. Thus, due to the privatization of hospitals to address the rising demand for healthcare by the population and the continued spike in the levels of infectious diseases amongst the population, there will be greater demand for the molecular diagnostics devices in the healthcare facilities, thus improving the molecular diagnostics market in Saudi Arabia.
Also, on January 13, 2022, HiberGene Diagnostics, Ireland’s leading diagnostics manufacturer, launched an innovative PCR adapt COVID-19 test at the Arab Health 2022. Moreover, on June 21, 2021, the G42 Healthcare, a leading health-tech company that is on a mission to develop the world-class healthcare sector in the UAE and beyond, and Seegene Inc., a global biotech company that specializes in the domain of molecular diagnostics, signed a Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] to offer fully equipped mobile diagnostics and testing laboratories across the MENA region. The partnership will, in turn, offer an innovative Seegene Mobile Station, a laboratory on-wheels facility offering the optimized molecular diagnosis and tests at any location for safeguarding the health of community. Also, on December 24, 2021, AstraZeneca and G42 Healthcare partnered to boost the research and diagnostics pertaining to molecular diagnostics technology in the UAE.
On November 19, 2018, Medlab, the MENA region’s largest medical laboratory exhibition and congress, announced the launch of the inaugural Artificial Intelligence (AI) conference. On April 28, 2021, a new research fund to counter the global threat posed by infectious diseases was launched by the Saudi foundation, Community Jameel, to support the collaborative research between Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz University (KAU) and Imperial College London, UK. Moreover, on October 08, 2018, OncoDNA, the healthcare technology company making precision medicine a reality, announced that it had signed an agreement with the world-class International Medical Center (“IMC”) in Saudi Arabia to provide the diagnostic services to the world-class IMC hospital.
The molecular diagnostic market in the MENA region is expected to grow. The efforts taken by governments to establish local manufacturing hubs in their own countries are further expected to drive the demand for the molecular diagnostic market. Several MENA countries have identified the investment in the healthcare sector as a priority for expanding healthcare and molecular diagnostic testing beyond the cities, including rural areas in the countries in the MENA region. Further, along with the increasing cases of epidemics and pandemics, the healthcare companies are continuously focusing on making new and innovative solutions for improving, combating, and curing the diseases around the region.
Molecular diagnostic devices play a crucial role in securing people’s lives by providing accurate diagnosis and prognosis, thus allowing improvised monitoring and treatment. Both the public and the private healthcare officials constantly rate quality care and the value for money as a major health priority, and therefore there is an extreme need to cater to high-quality laboratory testing. Moreover, rapid technological advancement in the molecular diagnostic product arena, increasing demand for point-of-care diagnostics, and rising consumer awareness regarding quick diagnostics will drive the molecular diagnostic market in MENA.
Source: DelveInsight – www.delveinsight.com