DQS is SANAS Accredited to provide ISO 13485 Certification in South Africa  

DQS, as a globally recognised certification body, assumes a crucial role in the process of ISO 13485 certification within the context of South Africa. Operating under the direction of accreditation bodies like the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS), DQS evaluates Medical Device Establishments' adherence to ISO 13485 standards. As a SANAS-accredited entity, DQS possesses the competence and authority to rigorously assess an establishment's quality management system against the requisites of ISO 13485. Its assessments encompass various dimensions, including design controls, risk management, and post-market surveillance, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of the establishment's alignment with international medical device industry standards.  The affiliation of DQS with SANAS amplifies the legitimacy and credibility of the ISO 13485 certification it bestows, thereby playing a significant role in enhancing the reputation and competitiveness of the certified establishments in the global market. 

What is the role of ISO 13485 Certification for Medical Devices?  

The role of ISO 13485 is pivotal in ensuring quality, safety, and regulatory compliance within the medical device industry. ISO 13485 is an internationally recognised standard that outlines the requirements for a comprehensive quality management system (QMS) specifically tailored to the design, development, production, installation, and servicing of medical devices. ISO 13485  provides a robust framework for organisations operating in the medical device industry to consistently produce safe, effective, and high-quality products while adhering to regulatory requirements and industry best practices.   

The Primary Roles of ISO 13485:

  • Quality Management System (QMS) Establishment: ISO 13485 provides a structured framework for medical device manufacturers, distributors, importers, exporters, and wholesalers to establish and implement an effective QMS. This system encompasses documented processes, procedures, and controls that ensure the consistent production of safe and high-quality medical devices. 
  • Regulatory Compliance: ISO 13485 aligns with regulatory requirements and standards specific to the medical device industry. By adhering to ISO 13485, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to meeting legal and regulatory obligations, both locally and internationally. 
  • Enhanced Quality Assurance: ISO 13485 emphasises risk management, traceability, and documentation. It mandates proactive identification and mitigation of risks, ensuring that potential issues are addressed before they impact the quality and safety of medical devices. 
  • Product Safety: ISO 13485 emphasises the importance of designing and producing medical devices that are safe for their intended use. It focuses on risk assessment, design controls, and validation processes to ensure that products are developed with patient safety in mind. 
  • Consistency and Standardisation: ISO 13485 promotes consistency in processes and procedures throughout the product lifecycle. This standardisation helps prevent errors, reduces variability, and enhances the overall reliability of medical devices. 
  • International Recognition: ISO 13485 is globally recognised and respected within the medical device industry. Certification to this standard can open doors to international markets, enabling organisations to expand their reach and compete on a global scale. 
  • Continuous Improvement: ISO 13485 encourages a culture of continuous improvement. Organisations are required to monitor and measure their processes, identify areas for enhancement, and implement corrective and preventive actions to ensure ongoing product quality and regulatory compliance. 
  • Competitive Advantage: ISO 13485 certification can provide a competitive advantage by instilling confidence in customers, stakeholders, and regulatory authorities. It demonstrates an organisation's commitment to quality, safety, and customer satisfaction. 

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Understanding SAHPRA's ISO 13485 Certification Mandate: 

Ensuring the quality, safety, and regulatory compliance of medical devices is of paramount importance in South Africa, and The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) is responsible for ensuring health product integrity across the nation. 

SAHPRA is responsible for overseeing: 

  • The regulation of health products intended for human and animal use. 
  • The licensing of manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors of medicines, medical devices, radiation-emitting devices, and radioactive nuclides. 
  • The conduct of clinical trials. 

Establishments must obtain the necessary licensing from SAHPRA to engage in activities related to medical devices, such as manufacturing, distributing, importing, exporting, and wholesaling. Before any licenses are granted by SAHPRA, organisations must first prove that they have the ISO 13485 certification, as it serves as a foundational prerequisite for obtaining and maintaining any future SAHPRA licenses. This certification aligns with SAHPRA's oversight, ensuring that medical devices meet rigorous standards and contribute to improving South Africa's healthcare standards. 

The Regulatory Landscape of South African Healthcare and ISO 13485 Certification:  

Within South Africa's medical device industry, regulatory adherence to ISO 13485 is not an option, as previously explained, it is now mandated by law. ISO 13485, a globally recognised standard, is a prerequisite for Medical Device Establishments operating under SAHPRA's purview. Aside from being a requirement, certification to ISO 13485 further demonstrates an establishment's commitment to establishing and upholding a robust quality management system (QMS) tailored to the medical device sector. 

ISO 13485 for SAHPRA Licensing and Compliance:  

Medical Device Establishments must be granted the relevant SAHPRA license before they may perform their activities. Furthermore, ISO 13485 certification is required by SAHPRA before granting any licenses, as medical device establishments must prove their alignment with ISO 13485 standards. This prerequisite underscores the pivotal role that ISO 13485 certification plays in South Africa. 

Improving Quality and Safety in South Africa's Healthcare Industry: 

ISO 13485 certification isn't solely about regulatory adherence; it's about raising the bar for quality and patient safety. Its stringent emphasis on risk assessment, design controls, and validation processes ensures that medical devices aren't merely functional but also safe for their intended use.  

ISO 13485 Certification Enables Global Recognition and Competitiveness:  

ISO 13485 certification is a global passport, in that certification asserts a medical device establishment's credibility on the international stage. Certified establishments gain a competitive edge, signalling to stakeholders that they are committed to stringent quality and safety benchmarks, regulatory compliance, and customer satisfaction. 

Understanding the Role of SANAS in ISO 13485 Certification:

The South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) assumes a pivotal role as the accrediting body that imparts recognition and legitimacy to conformity assessment bodies operating within South Africa. SANAS is primary authority capable of assessing and affirming the competence, impartiality, and proficiency of assessment bodies, thus playing a critical role in maintaining the credibility and integrity of various certification processes, including ISO 13485 certification.

Its meticulous evaluations ensure that certification bodies are aligned with international standards, thereby upholding the sanctity of quality, safety, and regulatory compliance in diverse sectors. Specifically in the context of ISO 13485 certification for Medical Device Establishments, SANAS accreditation reinforces the veracity of certification processes, providing assurance that the standards being adhered to are robust, consistent, and internationally recognised. This affiliation with SANAS is also relevant to the training provided by DQS Academy.

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Francois Labuschagne

Correctly positioned in the South African and International markets, with a proven track record in all industry, DQS assists any size organisation with its Management System Certification, Assurance, Training and Sustainability requirements.