Malaysia now seeks to manufacture high-end medical equipment.
Malaysia recently reached another milestone when it became a leading supplier of medical equipment to Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Hilmi Yahaya (pic) revealed that Malaysia is the main supplier of certain types of medical equipment and furniture used in hospitals across 57 OIC member countries. He also said that Arab nations have expressed interest in learning from Malaysia about the various technologies used to manufacture medical equipment and devices.
Currently, Malaysia is a leading manufacturer of rubber-based medical devices and is well established in the industry. The country is a major producer and exporter of surgical and examination gloves, supplying 60% of the world’s needs while supplying another 80% of the world’s market for catheters.
According to statistics provided by the Association of Malaysian Medical Industry, there are a total of 159 medical equipment and devices manufacturers in Malaysia and of that, 105 are surgical and experimental gloves manufacturers, 10 are catheter manufacturers, while 44 produce other types of medical supplies.
The medical devices industry is a growth area that has the backing of the government as it is a priority sector under the Healthcare National Key Economic Area (NKEA). Under this NKEA, the government hopes to provide higher value jobs and also create improved infrastructure and technology for the benefit of patients.
At this point of time, Malaysia, like many other countries in the region, is an importer of high-end medical devices. It now seeks to manufacture high-end medical equipment with the eventual aim to reverse the trend and become an exporter of such high-end medical equipment.
The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry has been tasked to promote and coordinate the development of various industries in the country.
MIDA noted that while Malaysia has captured the market of rubber-based medical products such as medical gloves, catheters and condoms, there is a shift towards the manufacture of non-rubber based higher value medical devices made from plastics, silicone and metal alloys.
In a report entitled “Medical Devices Industry in Malaysia”, MIDA stated that local manufacturers are able to manufacture and supply devices such as pacemakers, sutures, orthopaedic products, patient monitors, surgical instruments, medical tubes and bags, medical electrodes, endoscopes, dialysis solutions, blood transfusion sets and diagnostic radiographic equipment.
The report added that this industry in Malaysia is mainly supported by small to medium sized enterprises as well as some multi-national companies. MIDA’s report also stated that a majority of the Malaysian-owned companies are involved in the production of surgical and examination gloves while major foreign-owned companies are involved in the production of higher-value medical devices.
According to projections provided by MIDA, Malaysia’s medical devices market is expected to grow to RM5 billion in 2015.
“Malaysia is a gateway to Asia – a region with the fastest growing economies and where 75% of the world’s population lives.
“Asia’s healthcare market constitutes approximately 34% of the global healthcare market. Medical devices companies in Malaysia have the close proximity to the ASEAN market. With the full realisation of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), medical devices manufacturers will benefit from a single market with a total population of more than 580 million people, a combined GDP of US$1.2 trillion and total trade of US$1.62 trillion,” reported MIDA.
The agency adds that Malaysia is a perfect location for such an industry as the overall cost of doing business in Malaysia is competitive.