The global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic is expected to drive the adoption of medical robots in India, according to analytics firm GlobalData.

Hospitals in India, like counterparts around the world, face the challenge of protecting its medical professionals who come into close contact with patients who have contracted Covid-19.

Faced with this PPE shortage, Indian hospitals have been turning to medical robots to help doctors minimise close contact with infectious patients during treatment.

In March, software firm Propeller Technologies unveiled its prototype Zafi Medic robot at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital in the state of Tamil Nadu. The humanoid robots were originally designed as education robots but were reprogrammed to help deliver food and medicines to Covid-19 patients.

Other robots, such as Asimov Robotics’ Sayabots, have been dispensing cleaning materials and providing information about Covid-19 in hospitals.

Robots could make up for nurse shortages

India is no stranger to using medical robots. In October 2019, the Galaxy Care Hospital in Pune purchased CMR Surgical’s Versius surgical robotic system. It has since been used to assist with various operations including transthoracic, hysterectomies and myomectomies.

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But according to GlobalData’s report, ‘Robotic Surgery – General Surgery Market Analysis and Forecast Model’, the coronavirus pandemic is set to accelerate the use of medical robots.

By 2025, the robotic surgical systems and disposables market in India is expected to reach about US$$25m, the data and analytics firm predicted.

“While the robot surgical systems use has been growing in performing surgical procedures such as cardiovascular, orthopaedic, neurosurgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, healthcare facilities are also exploring the use of robots to manage Covid-19 patients to mitigate the risk of infection to healthcare professionals,” Bhaskar Vittal, medical devices analyst at GlobalData.

India currently has 27,892 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 872 reported deaths. However, these figures are feared to be higher due to low levels of testing and a high population density.

“Although robotic technology is currently expensive for wider adoption across all types of healthcare settings, it is expected to find increasing use in countries such as India due to very less number of healthcare professionals available for more than 1.3 billion population,” added Vittal.

China has also turned to robots to combat the coronavirus pandemic. In March it opened a new hospital ward in Wuhan staffed entirely by robots. It has also deployed temperature-checking robots across cities.

GlobalData is Verdict’s parent company. 

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