Thailand promotes aspirations to become medical hub


Thai-made medical devices and drugs showcased at healthcare exhibition, which is expected to draw more than 10,000 participants from around the world

Experts attending the International Healthcare Week in Bangkok say the Thai healthcare industry has the potential to penetrate the global market but needs government support if the country is to realise its aspirations to become a medical hub in Asean.

The event, which runs until tomorrow (July 12) at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, is expected to attract over 10,000 attendees from 50 countries worldwide, drawing in 350 leading global companies.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the trade show, which features cutting-edge medical supplies and promotes business networking, organiser Informa Markets made the point that the Thai medical laboratory and healthcare business has significantly improved compared to 2023 due to increased demand for medical devices, the expansion of hospitals and healthcare facilities, the rise in the elderly population, and the public's growing health awareness.  

“These are key factors driving growth in Thailand’s medical device business,” said Informa’s group director for ASEAN, Rungphech Chitanuwat.

She added that Thailand had also gained positive sentiment from the government’s support for promoting the medical industry, introducing new technologies and innovations, collaboration between public and private sectors in research and development, and increased investment in medical infrastructure.

But although Thailand can produce medical supplies that meet international standards, such as low-cost equipment like rubber gloves and facemasks, and as shown potential in producing generic drugs, limitations in production pose a challenge to becoming a medical hub, she noted.

Rungphech advised government agencies to boost investment, develop technologies and innovations to increase trade value, accelerate the patent request process to speed up drug production, and raise confidence in the Thai public health system.

Thailand is planning to become a medical hub to attract tourists, so the readiness of hospitals, medicine and public health system is important, she added.

Thailand promotes aspirations to become medical hub

Health security on Thailand’s agenda

“The Thai public health industry has been recognised by the United Nations as a model for developing countries,” said Vice Public Health Minister Thanakrit Jitareerat.

He confirmed that Thailand has a strong public health system, thanks to medical staff excellence and robust medical services.

Thanakrit vowed to work on the 10-year strategy to promote the country as a medical hub in a bid to boost public health security, improve people’s quality of life and stimulate the economy.

“We hope to see collaboration between relevant agencies to achieve the country’s target, which is important for boosting public health security,” he told participants.

Thailand promotes aspirations to become medical hub

Medical device potential

The medical device sector is driven by continuous technology and innovation advancement, which play a crucial role in shaping the future of the global healthcare industry, said Weerawat Meekaew of the Thai Medical Device Technology Industry Association.

Citing a study undertaken by Krungsri Research, he said the Thai medical device sector is likely to grow further as patients increase, society ages and the country faces up to emerging diseases and the growth of medical tourism. He added that medical device exports accounted for 1.2 per cent of Thai GDP.

Over the three years to 2025, domestic sales of medical devices are expected to grow by 5.5-7 per cent annually, he said, adding that the device exports were also anticipated to increase by 6.5-7.5 per cent a year,

Thailand promotes aspirations to become medical hub

High-quality drugs

“Thai-made drugs are high quality and reliable and have the potential to compete in the international market,” said Surachai Ruengsuksilp, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries’ pharmaceutical industry club, adding that the Thai pharmaceutical market was currently valued at US$6.5 billion (236.22 billion baht), and is expected to grow by 5-15 per cent annually. “This is thanks to an ageing society that has boosted the demand for drugs to prevent the risks of developing non-communicable diseases,” he noted.

He confirmed that Thailand has significant potential to become a major producer of advanced and complicated medical products in the biomedical field, adding that the country is a good place for investment in the pharmaceutical industry.

“With the government's support, we hope to increase the market share of Thai-made drugs from 30 per cent to 50 per cent by 2028,” he said.