By KHINE KYAW
ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Narongrid Galaputh, chief executive of Non-Hospital Group of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Public Co Ltd (BDMS) and managing director of N Health, said at a media briefing that the firm is proud to become the first government-licensed private medical laboratory in the neighbouring country.
“We are here because we believe in the future of Myanmar. This market recognises the value of services. It is willing to pay for quality services. It has a unique quality. I can tell from our experience that this market will grow further together with the services we provide,” he said.
Narongrid said that the firm had decided to establish the laboratory three years ago. He said the lab would benefit not only patients but also the society as a whole; accurate diagnosis is very important for treatment.
According to Narongrid, N Health Myanmar aims at supporting large hospitals for high-end genetic tests, allergy tests, as well as evaluations for tuberculosis, malaria, and dengue virus. Moreover, it intends to provide standard analytical services, including medical check-ups for small and medium-sized hospitals.
An initial US$2.5 million (Bt90 million) have been invested in the laboratory. N Health holds 60 per cent of the investment, while its two counterparts hold 20 per cent each.
The joint venture currently employs 25 local staff who were intensively trained by professionals from N Health Thailand to catch up with the latest systems and advanced technology, said Sann Htin Aung, executive director of Bahosi Hospital.
Narongrid said the number of Myanmar staff would sharply increase over time. He hopes to help develop the skills of Myanmar professionals through cooperation.
“We only bring limited supervisors and managers from Thailand in the initial period. We are fully confident that N Health Myanmar will be managed and operated by local staff later,” he said.
He is confident that the joint venture will enjoy 10 times growth in 5 years.
“We believe we can do more. We do not want to focus only on growth. We want to focus on quality services by Myanmar professionals to Myanmar society,” he said.
Improving quality of healthcare
Win Zaw Aung, managing director of Sea Lion Group, said that the laboratory would be a big plus to help improve the quality of healthcare in both the public and private healthcare sectors. He said Myanmar citizens have a chance to experience reliable laboratory services at a much lower price than in Thailand and Singapore.
“The Myanmar medical community and the people are longing for health quality standardisation. We are targeting to achieve the highest laboratory accreditation in the next few months for the first time in Myanmar’s medical industry,” he said.
He said the nation’s healthcare market has exploded since 2012, when the then government started political and economic reforms. He sees a lot of room for improvement in the near future.
“The overall market size of our healthcare industry has seen tremendous growth. We are heavily investing to expand our business together with our local, regional, and international partners. We are very excited to see a brighter future for Myanmar healthcare businesses in the next few years, and the market will continue to grow in the foreseeable future like the next 10-15 years,” he said.
Win Zaw Aung said the next destination for N Health Myanmar would be Mandalay, the nation’s second biggest commercial hub. Although the timeline for expansion is yet to be set, he hopes to do it very soon.
He said the Myanmar healthcare market will be growing by leaps and bounds within the next 3-5 years, as the country is undergoing transformation in healthcare to drastically increase the access to basic healthcare for those who still cannot reach.
“Over the past five years, government expenditure in healthcare has increased over 10 times. And the government budget to purchase medical equipments, devices and medicines has increased over a 100 times. So, you can image how fast this market has been growing. And we see it as the beginning,” he said.
He considers grooming a skilled health workforce as a critical challenge to upgrade Myanmar’s healthcare system to the next level. Yet, he is satisfied with the government’s efforts to increase the number and quality of skilled doctors, nurses, and technicians.
“The new government is coming up with a very comprehensive national health plan that they just launched. They are targeting to significantly increase the coverage, which is the essence of healthcare to the people. They are also targeting the universal healthcare system by 2030. We are also very glad to see healthcare spending continue to increase. We now have seen major investments by local healthcare providers and a few joint ventures,” he said.
“When we see bigger investment from both local and international firms and have skilled human resources in place, our healthcare market will be growing very, very fast, as the demand has already been very, very high,” he added.