The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is an organization that encompasses 10 member countries in Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Its goal is to promote dialogue and agreement between countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
According to the ASEAN Market Overview survey, as of the end of 2017, the world’s medical device market has reached US$398 billion. On of the main forces driving this trend is the aging population. Statistics show that as the population ages, demand for medical supplies increase, and as the number of patients with chronic diseases or surgery increases, so does the demand for hospitalization and surgery.
7 of the world’s most populous nations are located in the Asia-Pacific region, with a total population of 4.5 billion people. Asia accounts for 60% of the world’s population, and with unprecedented increases in the number of middle-aged and old people (expected to increase to 625 million by 2040), the demand for medical services has also increased. The region’s healthcare market is facing huge business opportunities. Currently, the largest health care exporters in ASEAN are Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.
As part of the visions of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), healthcare has been identified as one of the key industries for the ASEAN economy to accelerate development of. This includes five fields: pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, medical devices, traditional medicines, and health supplements.
Sources: MDA official website
Thailand – ASEAN’s International Medical Hub
According to the Introduction to Thailand’s Medical Device Market and Regulations report, the value of Thailand’s medical device market in 2016 was about US$126 million. Also, Thailand attracts over 2.5 million international medical tourists, mainly from the Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, and Cambodia, making Thailand an important medical center in the region. Medical tourism makes up 0.4% of Thailand’s GDP. Thailand is regarded as the first choice for affordable medical care in Southeast Asia, welcoming an average of 1.4 million medical tourists every year. Thailand’s medical tourism revenues reach US$4.3 billion, and have grown at the high rate of 15% per year for the past 10 years. The Thai medical industry attracts foreign investors, especially in the form of mergers and acquisitions of private hospitals, to enter the market, expand consumer groups, and drive demand for medical devices and expansion of market size.
There are around 1000 public hospitals and over 400 private hospitals in Thailand. According to estimates by the Thai Medical Device Technology Industry Association, about 85% of the country’s medical device relies on imports. Thailand’s Kasikornbank Thinktank also analyzed that there are about 319 medical device manufacturers, about 70% of which manufacture disposable medical equipment, such as surgical gloves, syringes, needles, contact lenses, gauze, and bandages; there are also up to 1500 medical device importers and distributers, mainly importing products from the US (24%), China (14%), Japan (12%), and Germany (11%). Products imported from China include basic medical equipment such as optical lenses, while products imported from the US, Japan, and Germany include general medical instruments and in vitro diagnostic medical equipment such as medical device sterilizers, blood pressure meters, blood glucose meters, as well as high tech medical devices such as X ray machines, from renowned brands like Siemens, Toshiba, Omron, and Johnson & Johnson. Products that have future market potential include IT medical systems. Due to the lack of laboratory analysis experts in Thailand, in vitro diagnostic medical equipment that can provide direct reports, and home medical devices that are in even higher demand in an aging society, such as blood pressure meters and blood glucose meters used to observe daily health status, are all products with great potential.
Source: THAILAND’S MEDICAL HUB
Diagram 2: Annual growth in the number of foreigners attracted by Thailand’s medical industry
With these aforementioned key factors, the development of Thailand’s medical device market continues to thrive. The increasing number of medical tourists to Thailand, rising living standards for Thai people, and the Thai government’s continued goal of developing Thailand as a leading medical center have all contributed to Thailand’s continuous innovation in the healthcare field.
Sources: Medical Devices ASEAN website; Introduction to Thailand’s Medical Device Market and Regulations