Malaysia contributes 4.8% of its GDP to healthcare in 2012, ranking it the 3rd highest healthcare spender in terms of percentage of GDP in the Southeast Asia region.
SEA Countries' Expenditure on Healthcare (% of GDP and $ Per Capital, year 2011, by World bank)
Identifying its huge economic potential, the healthcare sector is placed as one of the National Key Economic Area (NKEA) following the launch of the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) in 2010. Government efforts are put in place to welcome foreign investments in this area as well as build up its local healthcare businesses.
Malaysia Healthcare Delivery
In Malaysia, healthcare services tend to cater for the urban areas and public healthcare services cover the rural areas. However, healthcare services in both regions are currently lacking in both infrastructure as well as human resources, which translates into the health ministry’s key focus of training more healthcare personnel and strengthening public health and primary health care delivery.
Currently Malaysia healthcare delivery system is unable to keep up with the rising demand as seen in the decrease of healthcare facilities to population ratio over the years.
Malaysia's Hospital Beds (per 1,000 people)
The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) was setup by the Ministry of Health in 2009 and significant budget has been given to them to beef up Malaysia’s medical tourism. Furthermore, benefits like tax incentives and removing restrictions on foreign specialists licensing are implemented to support the industry. Such measures are met with success as seen in 2012, where Malaysia attracted 671,000 medical tourists, commanding an impressive projected CAGR of 12.78% from 2013-2017. Notably, Prince Court Medical Center in Kuala Lumpur was named 2013 World’s Best Hospital for Medical Tourists.
Malaysia Pharmaceutical Industry
Malaysia’s pharmaceutical industry is an area not to be neglected. Having a value of US$3.2 billion and growing rapidly at a pace of 11% yearly, the pharmaceutical industry might just be the next profit-making leader for Malaysia.
The Malaysian government has invested in state-of-the-art technology in order to boost the capability and competitiveness of its pharmaceutical industry. This allows local manufacturers such as CCM Pharmaceuticals and Duopharma which mainly focuses on generics production to dominate the Malaysian market.
Due to the nature of pharmaceutical products, the process of setting up a pharmaceutical operation in a country might be tedious and long. However, this is not the case for Malaysia. Favourable government policies and numerous tax incentives imposed by the government have created a favorable climate for foreign pharmaceutical companies to venture into Malaysia. This move has brought about good results as 6 major Indian pharmaceutical companies has already made Malaysia their production hub to enter the ASEAN market.
Despite the above, local manufacturers would pose a fierce challenge towards new entries into the Malaysian pharmaceutical market. It would be advisable for foreign manufacturers to partner local manufacturers to capitalize on their expertise in distribution and marketing.
Malaysia Medical Device Industry
Due to the abundance of rubber in Malaysia, the manufacturing of medical gloves and other medical disposable products dominate the medical devices industry of Malaysia. Malaysia is currently the world’s leading producer and exporter of medical gloves and catheters.
Malaysia’s medical devices industry can be divided into two groups, general medical products such as medical gloves and surgical masks as well as high-value medical products such as dialyzers, medical electrodes and orthopedic products. Local manufacturing companies such as Hartalega Holdings and Supermax Corp. dominate the general medical product industry while foreign medical devices companies such as B. Braun Medical Industries Sdn. Bhd. lead in high-value medical product manufacturing.
In an effort to attract foreign MNCs, the government has placed more emphasis high-valued medical products manufacturing in recent years. Similar to the pharmaceutical industry, incentives are given out as well to encourage foreign MNCs to set up their operations in Malaysia. The favourable climate for doing business in Malaysia encourages foreign investors to invest in the medical devices industry.