India imported medical devices worth ₹63,200 crore in 2021-22, up 41% from ₹44,708 crore in 2020-21, the commerce ministry data analysed by the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) shows. Over a six-year period, the increase has been five-fold as India imported ₹12,866 crore worth of medical devices in 2016-17, shows the data.

India’s top five medical device import sources -- China, USA, Germany, Singapore and the Netherlands – together account for ₹37,519 crore, or 68%, of the total value of imports.

AiMeD analysis shows that of the six major categories of medical devices that are imported, the growth has been the highest in the ‘electronics and equipment’ category. India imported ₹40,649 crore worth of medical devices that come under this category in 2021-22 against an import worth ₹4,569 crore in 2016-17.

The import of surgical instruments went up to ₹1,260 crore from ₹243 crore during this period. The other categories of products fared like this: IVD reagent (from ₹361 crore in 2016-17 to ₹6,564 crore in 2021-22), consumables (from ₹5,249 crore in 2016-17 to ₹8,488 crore in 2021-22), implants (from ₹384 crore to ₹3,155 crore) and disposable (from ₹2,061 crore to ₹3,084 crore).

Among the top import sources, medical device imports from China grew 48% from ₹9,112 crore in 2020-21 to ₹13,538 crore in 2021-22. Rajiv Nath, forum coordinator, AiMeD says the trend shows the “strategy of the government to slow imports from China is not working effectively enough”.

The medical device imports from the USA also increased 48% to ₹10,245 crore in 2021-22 from ₹6,919 crore in 2020-21. In the case of Germany, the imports went up to ₹5,809 crore (from ₹4856 crore) during the same period. The imports from Singapore (₹5,429 crore from ₹3,858 crore) and the Netherlands (₹2,498 crore from ₹1,673 crore) also grew between 2021-22 and 2020-21. Incidentally, the value of medical devices from China was nearly the same as the combined value of imports from Germany, Singapore and the Netherlands in 2021-22.

AiMeD also analysed the top 50 medical device import items from China to identify the areas of greater dependence for India. A bulk of the imported medical devices from China (in value terms) fall in the ‘other items’ sub-sections under various major categories, it finds.

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