The CSIR has been operating in the health sector for a number of years, being a key institution for the development of medical devices and diagnostics for point-of-care applications, as well as having strong capabilities in synthetic biology. The CSIR has positioned itself as a key innovator and implementation partner in health information systems, normative health standards and the digitisation of patient records. Thus, the CSIR’s core focus in the health sector is:
- Developing and commercialising integrated health information systems and digital solutions to support and inform health systems’ planning and treatment interventions;
- Supporting the growth of the medical devices and diagnostics industry through the accelerated development of innovative patient-centric solutions to provide access to equitable health care for everybody; and
- Developing and commercialising precision medicine and drug development tools to aid and inform health practitioners and disease management solutions.
The health systems and digital health platform focuses on interoperable health information systems for continuity of care and patient-centric healthcare delivery. The CSIR’s strategic response ensures an appropriate and up-to-date standards framework for eHealth systems, provides technical guidance for the implementation of standards, and establishes the national certification of standards compliance and national shared information and communications technology infrastructure for health data exchange. Furthermore, the CSIR’s NextGen Health cluster focuses on the digitisation of health information, as well as big data and data mining in profiling the South African population and its predisposition to certain diseases – work that requires extensive collaboration.
The medical devices and diagnostics platform focuses on developing a thriving local medical devices and diagnostic industry and positions South Africa as a key exporter of these technologies. The CSIR develops synergistic molecular and integrated diagnostics that are designed to meet the ASSURED (affordable, sensitive, specific, user-friendly, rapid, equipment-free and deliverable to end-users) needs of the developing world, mobile healthcare coordination and new payment systems.
The precision medicine platform develops innovative technology platforms and African-specific screening assays to reduce development time, save investment cost and lower barriers to market entry of active pharmaceuticals ingredients. It focuses on precision medicine, companion diagnostics, proteomics and stem-cell technologies to discover protein-biomarker treatments, predict adverse drug reactions, develop novel models of disease and investigate nanotechnology for targeted drug delivery and precision treatments.