In 2019, the value of the Thailand medical device market rose to 176 billion baht (US$6 billion) – a 70 percent increase in the past decade, according to official figures from Thailand’s Office of Industrial Economics. Thailand ranks ahead of Singapore as the most important importer and exporter of such products in the ten-member Associations of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to Krungsri Research, a unit of Japan’s largest financial services group, MUFG. Krungsri forecasts that the annual growth rate of Thailand’s medical device market will increase this year and in 2021 to between 8 and 10 percent.
Presently, some 600 Thai-based companies ranging from small and medium sized enterprises to international giants such as Japan’s Nipro and Hoya Optics manufacture and trade products ranging from simple disposable rubber gloves and bandages to surgical robots.
Investors are also attracted by Thailand’s proven track record in health care. The country was already aspiring for medical excellence back in 1927 when the present King Rama X’s grandfather, Prince Mahidol, graduated as an M.D. from Harvard University. Today, the country has a universal public health care system covering 99 percent of the 69 million population. Thailand’s almost 1,400 hospitals and medical facilities with in patients facilities, 378 are private establishments, and more than 60 are accredited by the Joint Commission International, or JCI, the global arm of the main standards-setting body for U.S. hospitals.