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Thailand takes steps towards legal use of medicinal marijuana

MEDICAL - Thailand
March 2019

The government of Thailand has been taking steps towards the legal use of marijuana, following the proposal of amendments in October 2018 that would legalize marijuana production and establish licenses for possession and distribution. Recreational use still remains illegal. 

Regulations from the Ministry of Health legalizing possession of marijuana for medical, research and other purposes were published in the Royal Gazette in late February. They covered possession by patients who need marijuana for the treatment of the illness, and the criteria for legal possession by governmental organizations, professionals, private universities, farm community-based enterprises, international transport operators and patients travelling internationally.

Subsequently a 90-day registration period for legal possession of marijuana was opened, which will end on 19 May. Registration can be done at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) office in Bangkok and also at provincial health offices.

Meanwhile, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) opened Thailand's first legal cannabis plantation on 27 February as the first step towards developing Thailand's own patented cannabis medicines. The plantation facility built with an investment of THB 100 million (USD 3.2 million) is equipped with advanced hi-tech closed-system aeroponics farming technology, which will ensure the crops meet the high medical-grade standard required to manufacture medicine from the plants.

Output from this facility will be used to produce cannabis oil which will be tested on selected patients, possibly by July. Extracts or "sublingual drops" will be administered to patients suffering from nausea and pain from chemotherapy, among other ailments.

(Sources: Chiang Rai Times; Straits Times: Channel NewsAsia; Thaivisa News)

Medical Supplies, Services, Drugs Placed Under Price Control In Thailand

MEDICAL - Thailand
February 2019

In January 2019 the government of Thailand added medicine, medical supplies and medical services to its price control lists. The rationale behind this decision is ensuring fairness for both patients and operators of private hospitals, as pointed out by the commerce minister.

It is estimated that the impact of price controls will mostly likely be felt by the private hospitals and healthcare providers. However, on a broader level, the price controls could result in a standardization of healthcare terminologies and delivery in terms of how services are ordered.

Currently, most hospitals in Thailand, and especially those that are private, have unique software programs that are designed specifically for their internal use, making it almost impossible for electronic information-sharing across hospitals.  Price controls may pave the way for a more standardized way of recording health information to facilitate reimbursement both for healthcare providers and payers/insurance providers.

While the move towards a unified national electronic healthcare record in Thailand may not happen in the short term, the new price controls create tangible opportunities for both public and private healthcare providers to provide more value and quality to their patients through leveraging health IT technologies.

(Sources: Bangkok Post; Healthcare IT News)

Thailand May Become the Worlds Powerhouse of Medical Marijuana

MEDICAL - Thailand
January 2019

Thailand is on the brink of becoming the first Southeast Asian nation to legalize medical marijuana, hoping to become a powerhouse in a globally exploding market. In the global rush to legalize marijuana, cannabis companies are looking for less expensive locations to mass-produce the cash crop. With its good growing climate and as a hub for shipping and medicine, Thailand is viewed as a suitable low-cost place to produce marijuana and then export it.

In October 2018 Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly proposed amendments to the Health Ministry that would legalize marijuana production and establish licenses for possession and distribution. Thai narcotics officials are telling their counterparts that the process to fully legalize marijuana for medical uses is expected by May 2019. 

Foreign firms, however, will have to wait as the government seeks to first award the rights to produce, extract and research the plant to Thai companies.

(Sources: Bloomberg; Chiang Rai Times)

Thailand’s Bumrungrad Hospital Invests USD 3 Million In Medical App Developer

MEDICAL - Thailand
November 2018

Thai private hospital Bumrungrad Hospital has announced that it will acquire a 30 per cent stake in Singapore-based medical app developer iDoctor. According to the  Stock Exchange of Thailand the purchase is set at USD 3 million. iDoctor’ founder will own the remaining 70%stake after the share transfer is completed.

Founded in 2016, iDoctor Pte Ltd designs and develops software and mobile applications for medical industry. iDoctor's Raksa app allows patients to consult experienced, certified Thai doctors from ome of the best hospitals in Thailand and the US, including Bumrungrad, Samitivej, Rama, Mahidol, Phramongkutklao, Khon Kaen, Boston Children's, St Jude's etc. 

Bumrungrad’s managing director said that the deal offers an opportunity for the hospital to expand its business into the digital market. As one of the largest private hospitals in the region Bumrungrad plans to fund this investment with its internal cash flow.

(Source: Dealstreetasia; The Stock Exchange of Thailand)

Japanese Hospital Operator Sakurajyuji Targeting Aging Population In Thailand

MEDICAL - Thailand
October 2018

Sakurajyuji Group, a leading Japanese health care service provider, has revealed plans to open a clinic in Bangkok in December 2018 as part of its strategy targeting the aging Thai population. Sakurajyuji Group has established Rojana Sakurajyuji Medical, a local joint venture with Rojana, a major industrial park operator, to run Sakura Cross Clinic in the Emporium Tower in Bangkok.

The clinic will specializes in internal medicine, pediatrics, gynecology, dermatology and health checkups, among other fields, with staff speaking English, Japanese and Thai, targeting wealthy locals and foreigners, including Japanese residents.

The joint venture, which has a capital of 54 million baht (USD 1.67 million) is owned 49 percent by the Japanese group, and 51 percent by the Thai group. The group jointly runs a hospital in Singapore with Parkway Group, the largest health care provider in the city-state, and plans to develop nursing homes in Shanghai and Taiwan, all with local partners.

Today, one-sixth of the total Thai population, or more than 10 million people, are senior citizens. By 2030, it is estimated that one in four Thais will be more than 60 years old. Thailand is also becoming an increasingly popular retirement option for foreigners attracted by its agreeable climate, low living and health costs and culture of service. The number of foreigners over 50 who have applied for retirement visas to stay in Thailand almost doubled to nearly 73,000 in 2017, from fewer than 40,000 in 2013

(Source: Japan Times)

Thai Hospital Operator Booms Backed By Aging Thais And Medical Tourism

MEDICAL - Thailand
September 2018

Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Pcl, a Thai hospital operator, has seen its shares to boom in 2018, becoming the most-valuable such business in any emerging market, with a value of USD13 billion.

The growth is being backed by rising demand from Thailand’s aging population as well as an increase in medical tourism.  “The inadequacies of public healthcare will continue to bolster the earnings growth of Bangkok Dusit”, said Adithep Vanabriksha, Bangkok-based chief investment officer of Aberdeen Standard Investments during an interview with Bloomberg.

Bangkok Dusit today operates 45 hospitals under six brands in Thailand, counting a combined 8,000 beds. The company has expanded mostly through acquisitions, including hospitals and wellness centers in resort hubs such as Phuket and Samui.

(Source: Bloomberg)

Five Organizations To Promote Innovations For Medical Purposes

MEDICAL - Thailand
August 2018

Five Thai organizations have joined forces to promote innovations created for medical purposes. Dr. Udom Kachindhorn, the Thai Deputy Education Minister, announced the news at a seminar on medical technology and its commercial implications. The event was part of the government’s push to promote the development of medical technology in Thailand. 

The Minister revealed that a fund for the development of medical innovations will be established, as a first step toward creating more homegrown medical technologies. 

The five organizations that are supporting the initiative are the Thailand Research Fund, the Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences, the Health Systems Research Institute, the National Science and Technology Development Agency and the Technology and Innovation-Based Enterprise Development Fund. The Deputy Education Minister said that funds from these five agencies will be used to advance the local medical sector going forward via the development of medical innovations and technologies.

(Source: National News Bureau of Thailand)

Samitivej Hospital Celebrating Their 39th Anniversary By Launching Health Campaign

MEDICAL - Thailand
July 2018

In celebrating its 39th anniversary, Samitivej Hospital kicked off its “Once that matters” health prevention campaign. The hospital focuses on prevention to help people stay healthy and not fall ill. The #OnceThatMatters campaign raises awareness that taking a preventive measure once matters for health in long run. In cooperation with Siam Commercial Bank SCB, local and international partners, Samitivej will use advanced technology to create a “healthcare disruption”. The entire medical service offers will be upgraded to ensure technological assistance to patients.

The offers provided by Samitivej include medical innovations that help patients unveil the body’s hidden secrets and prevent health risks, such as cancer. The “Samitivej Plus” application, developed in cooperation with Siam Commercial Bank’s digital technology arm Digital Ventures, for the first time enables patients to check their hospital queue number on their own mobile device and receive information online in real time, from registration to picking up medicine.

Chairat Panthuraamphorn, M.D., CEO of Samitivej and BNH hospitals, said, “As we are celebrating the 39th anniversary of the group, we are guided by the concept “Once that matters”. We designed all products and services to help people stay healthy, since we know that an illness not only affects patients, but also their families, friends and work, and in the end the national economy. Thai public healthcare spending exceeds 400 billion THB (12 billion USD) per year, not including private medical spending, and the trend is growing. With this in mind, we are committed to developing innovations and services to minimize people’s health risks.”

Samitivej has cooperated with a number of leading hospitals in Thailand and other countries in offering medical innovations and technologies that enable people to discover their specific health risks and then prepare them well. For example, genetic analysis by advanced precision medicine can predict a person’s possible health problems. In cooperation with Sano Hospital of Japan, Samitivej introduces the latest technology that can discover or predict the possibility of colon and gastric cancer.

(Source: Samitivej Hospital)

Phayathai 2 Hospital’s Heart Center Aims To Be Cardiology Hub

MEDICAL - Thailand
June 2018

Phayathai 2 Hospital has invested more than THB 100 million baht (USD 3.1 million) into its Heart Center in an effort to set it up as the foremost cardiac treatment center in Asia. Of the total investment, around THB 42 million was spent on upgrading facilities and medical-service training to ensure patient comfort and safety, while the remaining THB 63 million was allocated for the latest medical equipment and technology.

The Heart Center has the capacity to treat a total of around 1,000 patients per month.  The hospital is expecting around 85% of heart patients at the center to come from Thailand. The 15% overseas patients will be from China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and the Middle East. 

Phyathai 2 Hospital's Heart Center is certified by the Joint Commission International Standards of Clinical Care Program Certifications (CCPC) on the Acute MI (Acute Myocardial infarction) program to service customers as the myocardial ischemia patients, medical services, heart disease patients, internal medicine and surgery including adult and child patients. A Hybrid Operating room has been developed to merge interventional approach with traditional surgical function of the operating room, allowing the cardiologist to perform minimally invasive and open-surgery techniques simultaneously.

Dr. Thouantosaporn Suwanjutah, Heart Center Director of Phyathai 2 Hospital, said, "Thailand has given the healthcare industry top priority, as seen in the government’s policy to promote and support the country to be the “Medical Hub of Asia” for several years. This is a perfect opportunity for Phyathai 2 Hospital to drive forward the Heart Center aims for Asia Cardiology Hub."

(Sources: Phyathai 2 Hospital, The Nation)

Thailand Medical Tourism To Benefit From Chinese IVF Demand

MEDICAL - Thailand
May 2018

Chinese medical tourist looking for health clinics in China could represent a USD 16 billion (500 billion baht) market for Thailand, as wealthy, older Chinese couples rush to conceive a second baby following the end of the country's four-decade-long one-child policy. This estimate of USD 16 billion does not include ancillary revenue generated by medical tourists in their 3-8 week stays.

Other countries with developed medical infrastructure such as Japan and Korea have not developed a robust fertility ecosystem because there is little local demand for it, whereas Thailand has been developing it for more than 10 years, focusing on medical tourism.

There is also a growing market for social freezing, which allows young women to freeze their eggs to use in fertilisation procedures later in life. The process is still prohibited in China, Singapore and Malaysia, and was recently decriminalised in Hong Kong. Egg freezing costs around USD 10,000 in the US, in addition to a $500 dollar fee for every year the egg is frozen, and a USD 5,000 payment for every time an egg is unfrozen and transferred to the patient's ovaries. Companies like Borderless health clinic are attempting to redirect China's growing fertility tourism to markets like Thailand by using existing tourism channels, which Thailand is already known for.

 (Sources: Bangkok Post)

TPG Eying Thai Fertility Hospital

MEDICAL - Thailand
April 2018

Rumors have circulated that American private equity firm TPG is in talks to buy a stake in a Thai hospital specializing in fertility treatments, known as Jetanin Institute. In effect, Bangkok’s Jetanin Institute for Assisted Reproduction is looking for investors for the business, which could be valued at USD 400 million to USD 500 million. The Institute specializes in fertility treatment, and has a dedicated tem for embryonic growth.

TPG has not confirmed the claims, but over the last years the company has been attracted by the Asian region, betting that growing affluence, ageing population and increased availability of medical insurance will turn people to private operators. Today the company has oncology centers in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Indonesia and opened the Cardiac Vascular Sentral hospital in Kuala Lumpur at the end of last year.

(Sources: Bangkok Post; Bloomberg)

Thailand’s Largest Medical Center To Be Built In Khon Kaen

MEDICAL - Thailand
March 2018

Thailand's Khon Kaen University is planning the construction of a 5,000-bed hospital, which would be the country's largest center dedicated to medical services. As the demand for medical care in the country’s northeastern region continues to rise, local hospitals are not able to meet the demand for medical services.

The project will comprise two buildings, of 20 and 39 storeys, to provide state-of-the art medical services and a car park. In the first phase, the hospital will require an investment of THB 14 billion (USD 428.7 million) to raise the number of beds from 1,100 to 3,500. This phase would be completed over the next three years. For the second phase, the hospital needs THB 10.5 billion (USD 321.5 million) to meet the goal of 5,000 beds, making it the largest hospital in the country. 

(Source: Pattaya Mail)

Thailand's Ageing Society To Push Healthcare Cost

MEDICAL - Thailand
February 2018

Thailand’s ageing society will push the country’s healthcare costs to THB 1.4 trillion (USD 4.1 billion) per year within the next 15 years, according to the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), a non-profit non-government Thai policy think tank focused on social and economic development issues.

Total government spending on healthcare has increased significantly, driven by a fast-aging society. The study found that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity will be major health threats for seniors and will require large budgets to treat effectively. Elderly people are the major group of patients suffering from NCDs in the country's Universal Health Coverage scheme and Civil Servant Medical Benefit scheme. The research also points out that the government should plan ahead to cope with an ageing society and associated health problems by promoting preventative healthcare and measures focused on senior citizens in the future. Such measures could save as much as THB 505 billion (USD 16.1 billion) by 2032.

(Source: Thailand Development Research Institute) 

Thailand A Priority Market For Breast Cancer Drug

MEDICAL - Thailand
January 2018

Thailand will be among the priority countries for breast cancer drug called Ibrance which is manufactured by global pharmaceutical company Pfizer. The incidence of breast cancer cases in Thailand is registered at 29 per 100,00 people which is relatively low compared to other countries in the Asia Pacific region, but the numbers are increasing at an alarming rate. Thailand’s breast cancer rates is now third highest in Asia, growing 34% a year, according to statistics published by The Economist recently. Cancer cases in Asia, which make up more than 55% of global cases, are expected to rise due to factors such as unhealthy lifestyle and diets as well as work-related stress.

The Ibrance capsules aims to stop cancer cells from spreading without requiring chemotherapy. The drug, which costs THB 1.2 million (USD 38,109) a year, is now available in Thailand and local doctors as well as Pfizer are considering partial reimbursement and a free one-month trial of this drug to patients to make it more affordable.

(Source: The Nation)

Thailand To Manufacture Automated External Defibrillators

MEDICAL - Thailand
December 2017

The Thai Department of Industrial Promotion (DIP) has signed an MoU with a Korean company, Mediana, for a technology transfer to produce Automated External Defibrillators (AED) for sale in the Thai market. An AED is a lightweight, portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart, which can potentially stop an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia) and allow a normal rhythm to resume following sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Locally made AED machines will help reduce Thailand's dependence on imported devices, as well as help develop its domestic medical sector.

Under the terms of the agreement, Mediana will transfer production technology to Thai company Star Microelectronics Thailand Plc, which will produce the AEDs and sell them under the Korean brand. Thailand expects to produce about 100,000 AED machines within five years to serve demand in Thailand, mostly to make the machine more affordable to state-owned hospitals across the country.

Mediana is keen to expand its business in Thailand and will use the country as a base to expand further into South East Asia. It also plans to invest in its own factory in Thailand, where it will produce various types of medical equipment.

(Source: Bangkok Post)

Thailand’s Medical Tourism Is Booming

MEDICAL - Thailand
November 2017

Figures from Kasikorn Thai Research Center show that Thailand’s medical services and sector are on the rise. The growth rates of private hospitals remain double-digit thanks to the increasing number of international patients. Revenue generation of Thailand’s medical tourism industry is at least THB 40 billion (USD 1.2 billion) per annum. Thailand has become a top destination for medical tourism. It has been estimated that in 2017, proceeds from foreign patients will account up to 30% of private hospital revenues. To stimulate the growth of this sector, the Thai government is providing medical visa extension for foreigners aged over 50, from one to 10 years as well as 90-day visas for patients and medical visitors from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, China and Vietnam.

Thailand also seeks to position itself as Asia’s anti-aging center, boasting 500 medical specialists in this sector. In addition, private hospitals are searching for value-added solutions to generate additional income and increase market value such as provision of daily medical apparatus, senior nursing homes, hospital caterers and pharmacies.

(Sources: International Medical Travel Journal; Taiwan Trade)

Thailand Keen On Developing Biopharmaceutical Market

MEDICAL - Thailand
October 2017

CIMAB S.A (the commercial arm of the Center of Molecular Immunology, the Cuban government's institute for cancer research) has signed a deal with Siam Bioscience, Thailand's leading biopharmaceutical company, to produce six biopharmaceutical therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases. The agreement, establishes a joint venture called Abinis that will produce drugs for the global market from a facility in Nonthaburi, Thailand. Global biopharmaceutical revenues will reach $221 billion this year, according to Siam Bioscience.

The deal builds on a two-year relationship between Siam Bioscience and CIMAB S.A. that has already enabled the Thai company to produce two biopharmaceutical therapies patented by the Cuban company -- hemaplus, used in treatments for renal failure, and leucoplus, which reproduces white blood cells for patients undergoing chemotherapy. Both went on sale in Thailand in 2016.

Thailand sees biopharmaceuticals as a way of reducing growth in healthcare expenses, estimated at THB 500 billion (USD 15 billion) a year and forecast to grow as the population ages. Abinis is also seen by Thailand's Board of Investment as a high-tech flagship of the ruling military junta's "Thailand 4.0" policy of seeking investment in research and development to boost the economy.

(Source: Nikkei Asian Review)

Medical Devices ASEAN 2018

MEDICAL - Thailand
September 2017

The Medical Devices ASEAN (MDA) 2018, an exhibition and congress aimed at promoting medical devices, technologies, services and general healthcare will be held in Thailand in 2018. The event is expected to showcase medical companies from all around the world and their range of cutting-edge medical devices and services, including the latest surgery products; laboratory equipment; orthopedic devices; orthotics and disability aids; imaging and diagnostics; radiotherapy; and general equipment and supplies, widening the options for the medical and heathcare sectors. It will be held at the IMPACT Exhibition Center in Bangkok, Thailand from July 11 to 13, 2018.

Thailand is leveraging on this event to boost its budding medical sector, which has been enjoying positive growth. The country offers significant opportunities for medical companies looking to enter the Asian markets, with the market for medical equipment in Thailand expected to expand by 10% from THB 48 billion (USD 1.45 billion) in 2016 to THB 58 billion (USD 1.75 billion) in 2018. In 2015, imports of medical device increased 10.8 per cent and exports of medical device increased 8.5 per cent, reflecting the stable progress in Thailand’s healthcare sector.

(Source: Medical Device ASEAN 2018)

Thailand To Launch Manual On Medical Equipment Evaluation

MEDICAL - Thailand
September 2017

Public health authorities plan to produce a standard manual for the evaluation of medical equipment, improve patients’ confidence and ensure the accuracy of medical tests. The Health Service Support Department has collaborated with the Department of Medical Sciences, and the National Institute of Metrology to produce the standard manual, test guidelines, and certifications for medical instruments to contain the sales of poor quality medical instruments and to enhance the capabilities of laboratories and related workforces in Thailand.

The manual is covering the test for accuracy of infant incubators, electronic thermometers for continuous measuring, and electronic thermometers for maximum temperatures. The developed test protocols will enhance the testing and certification practices in Thailand to be on par with the international community.

(Source: National News Bureau of Thailand)

Medical App For Remote Patient Healthcare Provision

MEDICAL - Thailand
August 2017

Budding medical startup "Health At Home" has received a significant amount of funding from Muang Thai Life Assurance and 500 TukTuks, to proceed with the development of a remote healthcare service provider that will benefit elderly people and home-based patients with chronic illness. Health At Home, which was founded by a team of doctors, is a mobile app that provides virtual interaction between the patient and a licensed and trained professional in order to monitor the patient, schedule treatment, track patient medical records and facilitate health insurance coverage. The funding for the mobile app is THB 3 billion (USD 69.76 million).

(Sources: Bangkok Post; The Nation)

Thailand’s New Long-Stay Visa For Medical Tourists

MEDICAL - Thailand
July 2017

The government has outlined its plan to push Thailand to becoming a medical hub for foreign tourists through the extension of long-stay visa for visitors. People from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and China who come to Thailand for medical treatment will be given the permission to stay in the Kingdom of Thailand for up to 90 days. Previously, the maximum period of stay given to people from the mentioned countries was 30 days. This extended stay will be applicable for up to four companions per patient.

Furthermore, the government has approved the extension of long-stay visas for citizens of 14 countries to 10 years including Australia, Japan, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. Spouses and children up to 20 years old would also be eligible to apply for this visa. To quality for this type of visa, the applicant must be over 50, have THB 3 million (USD 89,420) or earnings of at least THB 100,000 (USD 2,980) per month and sufficient health insurance.

Thailand is well known for its medical services with modern equipment and personnel with specialist skills and there have been many foreign patients who travel to Thailand to receive medical treatments. Nonetheless, they often encounter visa issues due to limited stay granted. As a result, the government believes that this long-stay visa extension will encourage more foreign patients to visit Thailand for medical purposes.

(Sources: Bangkok  Post, Thai Visa News, Chiangrai Times)


Thailand: Budget For Medical Supplies Approved

MEDICAL - Thailand
June 2017

A budget of THB 12.39 billion (USD 364.49 million) has been approved by the board of the National Health Security Office (NHSO) for the centralized procurement of medical supplies for fiscal year 2018. This increase in budget is in line with the government policy to offer comprehensive medical care. Currently, NHSO runs the universal healthcare scheme, covering approximately 48 million Thai people, and it offers most medical services with no cost.

The medical products that will be procured centrally are the ones that best bought in bulk, to enhance the negotiation power such as orphan medicines to treat rare medical conditions, antidotes, vaccines, anti-retroviral drugs, stents, artificial knees and supplies for continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD). While NHSO is currently in charge of centralized procurement, in 2018 this responsibility will be taken care of by the Public Health Ministry.

(Sources: Asia News Network, The Nation)


Asia’s First Successful Surgery By A Robot In Thailand

MEDICAL - Thailand
May 2017

A successful operation was conducted at Ramathibodi hospital with its first robotic assistant on a brain surgery which involved removing a small tumor of a 77-year old patient. This achievement is considered the first in Asia. The neuro-surgery of surgery department stated that the THB 40 million (USD 1.18 million) robot is capable of conducting microsurgery, particularly brain surgery with high precision and very low error. In addition to its ability to remove a very small tumor in the brain, it is also ideal for treating some brain abnormalities such as Parkinson disease. Furthermore, a robotically assisted surgery performance can reduce the possibility of complications that typically come with conventional surgery and post-surgery symptoms such as paralysis, loss of sight or speeches or other disabilities.

(Sources: Thai PBS, The Nation)


18 State Hospitals Are In Debt

MEDICAL - Thailand
April 2017

It has been revealed that 18 state hospitals have accumulated debts amounting from THB 92 million up to THB 400 million (USD 2.7 million to USD 11.8 million). The Public Health Minister admitted that this is not new and the state hospitals have been experiencing financial issue for quite some time, however, the situation is now getting worse. The government has announced assurances that they are in the process of solving this issue.

(Sources: Thai PBS, Coconuts Bangkok)


Thai Firm Opens Myanmar’s First Private Medical Lab

MEDICAL - Thailand
March 2017

National Healthcare Systems Co., Ltd, a Thai medical service provider is to become the first government-licensed private medical laboratory in Myanmar. An independent clinical laboratory was open in March as a joint venture with two Myanmar firms namely Sea Lion Group and Bahosi Hospital. A budget of USD 2.5 million was split 60-20-20 respectively for the initial setup of the N Health medical laboratory center in Yangon, the commercial hub of Myanmar.

The goal of N Health Myanmar is to support large hospitals for high-end genetic tests, allergy tests, as well as evaluations for tuberculosis, malaria, and dengue virus. In addition, it aims to offer standard analytical services, including medical check-ups for small and medium sized hospitals.

(Sources: The Nation, Consult-Myanmar)


Aging Population A Strain To Healthcare Budget

MEDICAL - Thailand
February 2017

Thailand’s aging population is straining its underfunded universal healthcare scheme outlined in the new budget for healthcare sector. The scheme, which provides free coverage for most of medical treatments and services for about 48 million Thais in the country, only received a budget of THB 151 billion (approximately USD 4.4 billion) for the fiscal year of 2017, despite the requested budget of THB 164 billion (approximately USD 4.7 billion) by the National Health Security Office (NHSO), the agency in charge of the scheme. The budget constraint is worrying as almost one third of the covered population under the scheme are over 60 years old and naturally would require more healthcare and medical treatments related to aging.

Thailand is expected to have 17 million seniors by 2021. The country is looking for alternative solutions to reduce the strain on its healthcare budget so that it can still provide adequate healthcare and medical treatments coverage for the seniors when it became a full-fledged aging country in the near future. One of the alternatives currently considered is the co-payments from patients to share the cost of services among salaried citizens. This plan is not new to Thailand though, as it was first brought up over ten years ago. However it has received backlash from the people who are under the impression that the government is trying to abolish the scheme altogether. The security net has won international praises for its benefits to majority of the Thais, but the free health system is putting an increasing load on the state budget and is expected to collapse unless action is taken to rectify the situation. 

(Sources: The Nation, Standard Chartered)


Thailand To Get Supplies From Taiwan’s Chipmakers

MEDICAL - Thailand
January 2017

Taiwanese government’s policy to expand its ICT capabilities into the integration of hardware and software and higher-margin converged technologies. A possible avenue for that would be for Taiwanese chipmakers to supply biochips for Thailand’s high-end medical devices and products, preventive medicine and telemedicine. As a medical tourism hub in the region, Thailand’s medical biotechnology sector is viewed by Taiwanese companies as an attractive market.

The current import duty rate for importing medical equipment into Thailand is 15%. With attractive investment incentives the Taiwanese manufacturers would be prepared to set up their operation and manufacturing plants in Thailand.

The medical tourism industry generates about THB 40 billion (USD 1.18 billion) per year and continues to grow.

(Source: Bangkok Post)


Bumrungrad To Become A Fully Digital Hospital

MEDICAL - Thailand
December 2016

Bumrungrad International Hospital is on its track to become a fully digital hospital in Thailand. The Joint Commission International-accredited hospital is one of the largest private hospitals in South East Asia, and is considered a technological innovator among its peers. Many of its standalone systems are already digital, with lots of digital outputs coming from its CAP Accredited laboratory. It has also been using digital readers and digital films for imaging in the past few years.

Recently it has announced its partnership with the US-based InterSystems Corporation to implement the InterSystemsTrakCare unified healthcare system and the HealthShare Health Connect interoperability solution in enhancing its organizational efficiency and quality of care. The partnership brought Bumrungrad into InterSystems’ vibrant and growing base of customers across over 25 countries which benefitted from the global best practices built into the product.

(Sources: Enterprise Innovation, InterSystems)


Pharma Market To Reach USD 9.5 Billion In 2020

MEDICAL - Thailand
November 2016

Thailand’s pharma market, valued at USD 5.91 billion in 2015, is forecasted to reach USD 9.5 billion in 2020. The rise in value is primarily driven by the treatment for chronic diseases among expanding senior population, apart from the increased occurrence of obesity and other non-communicable diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and cancer among the general population in recent years due to unhealthy lifestyles.

As one of Asia’s medical tourism hubs, Thailand generated USD 1.84 billion from medical tourism in 2012 before reaching USD 4.7 billion in 2015. The pharmaceutical sector is riding on this positive development in medical sector. The government has also launched a number of initiatives to enhance accessibility to medical services for its population, including the 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2012 – 2016) and the Second National Plan for Older People (2002 – 2021). Between 2008 and 2015 the number of public hospitals were also reported to have increased at a CAGR of 4%, contributing to the rise in healthcare spending in the country.

(Sources: Pharmaceutical Executive, Biogenetech)


Thai Medical Tourism In Demand In UAE

MEDICAL - Thailand
October 2016

Albeit the changes in Abu Dhabi’s health insurance policies, the number of patients from UAE going to Thailand for their medical treatment is expected to remain unaffected. The Emiratis who are going abroad to seek for treatment are either self-paying or having their expenses covered by the Ministry of Health. In 2015 Thailand received a total of 150,000 medical tourists from the UAE, which is an increase of 2.5% from the year before.

In total medical tourists recorded visiting Thailand in 2015 were over 30 million, of which 53% or 16 million of them came in for medical and wellness treatment. Medical tourists seeking specific medical treatments were numbered at 857,086, an increase of 25% from the previous year. Another 15 million of them were recorded visiting to seek for wellness tourism, an increase of 38% from 2014. Among popular treatments seek by the UAE patients in Thailand are orthopedic surgeries, eye surgeries, cardiac procedures and general medical check-ups.

(Sources: The National, Global Growth Markets)