A TECHNO-ECONOMIC NEWS MAGAZINE FOR MEDICAL PLASTICS AND PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY
Our 12th Year of Publication
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Cover Story

Healthcare Market in Thailand and Indochina : Opportunities Galore

Thailand has made much headway to improve its healthcare facilities and extend medical services to a greater number of its population. The efforts in the public sector are partnered by efforts in the private sector - and the synergy is proving to be healthy for this market-driven economy. The Thai government has launched unique plans and policies, which could very well prove to be working models for other developing nations to follow. Some of these action plans include:

Developing better healthcare services, supplies and facilities

At the opening of HOSPIMedica THAILAND in 2003, key speakers highlighted the interest within both public and private sectors in boosting the healthcare market

As the economy develops, the healthcare industry is showing increasing signs of growth and participation, for example:

  • Stronger interest in healthcare related events, such as trade shows and exhibitions

  • More efficient hospitals in both public and private sectors

  • Thais becoming more health conscious and concerned with quality of life

  • Greater demand for health supplements, diabetic food, biotechnology pharmaceuticals as well as AIDS and cancer related medicine (an estimated one-third of working people in Bangkok regulatory buy dietary supplements)

  • Rising number of local distribution partners to handle products for foreign suppliers and investors

The government activity promotes investment in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, with exemptions and other incentives, as well as joint ventures with local partners. Thailand boasts a large and capable labour force for the set up of high-tech manufacturing plants. Total sales of medical devices in Thailand in 2002 were estimated to have reached approximately US$380 million. Although this may be considered a relatively modest amount, potential for considerable ongoing growth undoubtedly exists.

There are opportunities for various healthcare companies and professionals in the areas of medical training, ambulance services, retirement homes, medical equipment supplies and rural health services. Thailand’s hospital expansion programmes offer enormous scope for medical equipment manufacturers to penetrate the country’s lucrative hospital market.

Implementing healthcare innovations and technologies

“Thailand is a relatively liberal market for medical devices imposing few restrictions on their importation and sale… The Thai Government also offers various tax incentives to companies that are willing to produce medical devices in the country either for local demand or export.”

-Ms Tasnee Jiarakul, Director, The Thai Medical Device Supplies Association

“Being involved in events such as HOSPIMedica THAILAND, we are able to provide another unique communication platform for our over 200 member hospitals. Our members will be able to source for medical devices and products, diagnostics and rehabilitation equipment and at the same time keep themselves updated in what is new and available in the market in terms of solutions and medical technology.”

-Dr. Surapang Ambhanwong, Advisory Board & Foreign Affairs, The Private Hospital Association of Thailand

There are many opportunities for providers of innovative and high-tech medical equipment including plastic surgery equipment. Buyers often look out for packages which include training, maintenance and upgrading; refurbishment or reconditioning of the used equipment; and rental or leasing options in lieu of purchase.

Many hospitals use electronic medical records, and some have Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS). Patient’s data, radiology pictures and medical pictures are transmitted on-line through telephone, satellite and optical cable wires. Specialist doctors and treatments apply high-tech procedures for brain surgery, like minimal invasive neurosurgery with neuronavigator guided techniques.

 

IT system providers are also needed to install and maintain software and hardware for telemedicine, data management and transfer systems for both inter- and intra-hospital networks.

Developing the health tourism industry

It is Thailand’s goal to extend top quality medical and healthcare services to patients from other countries, especially where medical treatment and surgical procedures cost more or the waiting list is too long or the insurance coverage is inadequate.

The Ministry of Public Health aims to make Thailand a vibrant focal point for the health industry, with investments to build medical centres in Bangkok, Phuket and the northern city of Chiang Mai. The Ministry also plans to attract more health tourists by developing the long-stay health sector.

Fast Facts

Thailand

  • There are some 900 companies in Thailand distributing and marketing medical devices.

  • Total sales of medical devices in2002 is estimated to reach approximately US$ 380 million.

  • About 600,000 foreign visitors used Thailand health services in 2002, earning the country almost 20 billion baht.

Vietnam

  • The import value of medical devices in 2002 has reached approximately US$ 335 million.

  • There are close to 20,000 private healthcare clinics and 3,500 specialised clinics in Vietnam.

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