As part of its Thailand 4.0 initiative, the Thai government wants to make Thailand a leading destination for pharmaceuticals and medical devices and a world-class provider of medical care. Here’s the country’s plans to create tomorrow’s world-class medical hub.
While Thailand has allocated considerable resources to make the country more attractive to medical tourists, it’s also invested in improving living standards for Thai people. Thailand is dealing with two big issues that challenge its medical system. One of these issues is its aging population. In 2016, 11% of the Thai population was above the age of 65; by 2040, projections say that that number will rise to 25% (or roughly 17 million people). At the same time, rising rates of non-communicable diseases are increasing the number of patients receiving medical care from Thailand’s hospitals.
These trends will spur growth in Thailand’s medical industry, particularly in pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Thailand imported over $2.2 billion in pharmaceuticals in 2016, up from $1.8 billion two years prior. The country’s pharmaceutical industry is expected to grow to $9.47 billion by 2020, a sharp increase over its $5.91 billion size in 2015, according to research firm GlobalData.
The growth in Thailand’s pharmaceutical industry is also a product of the country’s compliance with the manufacturing standards of the Pharmaceutical Inspection Cooperation Scheme (PIC/S), which establishes best practices for the production and distribution of medical products. By observing these standards, Thailand will become a more attractive partner for multinational pharmaceutical manufacturers looking for Asian distribution partners.
Thai companies and research universities are also creating new innovations in medical devices. The National Science and Technology Department Agency (NSTDA), for example, has teamed up with many organizations, such as Chulalongkorn Hospital and Siriraj Hospital, to research and develop medical devices and technology.
These projects include applying 3D printing technology to manufacture medical implants for skull, jaw and hip prosthetics, the invention of microneedles and silk microneedles, and the development of medical robotics. And Cosmo Meditec Company, in collaboration with Lerdsin Hospital, the Royal College of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), has produced an artificial shoulder joint prosthesis that will significantly improve the recovery of bone tumor patients.
One way the country is encouraging companies to invest in this kind of innovation is through corporate income tax exemptions, which will make them more competitive to invest in pharmaceuticals and medical device manufacturing.
“The Thailand Board of Investment has been generous to us over our long history. Their incentives make the investment decisions in this country even more attractive,” said Shinsuke Yuasa, President of Thai Otsuka, Otsuka which has produced intravenous fluids and medical food in Thailand since 1973.
To ensure that residents and visitors continue to get access to premium medical care, Thailand’s hospitals have worked to meet healthcare accreditation standards. As of 2017, the independent Joint Commission International (JCI) as recognized 58 hospitals across Thailand. The country hopes to extend that certification even further in an effort to reach a greater percentage of the 1,300 private and government-funded hospitals in the country. Millions of people already visit Thailand each year for medical treatment, and this process is certain to push that number even higher.
Together, all of these efforts will cement Thailand’s position as a global health and wellness hub. Not only will they improve the quality of life for Thai people, but they will also provide unprecedented business opportunities to healthcare visionaries – along with Thailand’s customary high-quality service. Whether through innovations or high-quality medical care, the country is set to answer a diverse range of health needs for millions of people.
For more information about the benefits that Thailand might offer your business, visit the Thailand Board of Investment, which showcases resources and programs that create opportunities across a range of industries.