NEW ZEALAND (Reuters) – New Zealand’s national health agency said on Wednesday that it had approved the use of 3D printing technology to manufacture mobile phones that could help combat global-health crises.
The technology has already been tested in New Zealand, where the country’s new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern signed a $3.6 billion plan last month to develop a 3D printed mobile phone and an electronic health record.
New Zealand’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) said in a statement that the technology was being used to manufacture medical-grade plastic medical implants and would help improve the delivery of health care.
It said that it hoped the 3D printers would be used to make medical implants that could be used by the government to pay for the devices themselves and in which the cost would be less than $1,000.
“The device would be able to replace many types of surgical procedures,” NHMRC said in the statement.
“It could also be used as a treatment tool for people who have a high-risk of getting a serious infection, such as HIV, Hepatitis C or TB.”
New Zealand had the world’s highest suicide rate in 2013, according to the World Health Organization.
More than 1,500 people have taken their own lives in New York since 2009, with at least one person dying each day.