“Myanmar’s healthcare infrastructure remains underdeveloped,” writes Ang Wei Zheng, pharmaceuticals & healthcare analyst for BMI Research in Singapore in a new research paper that looks at opportunities for private healthcare providers in the country.
Although many healthcare companies, like Malaysia’s IHH Healthcare, have shown interest, to date only three companies have made the leap.
First out of the gates was India’s Apollo Hospitals, which launched a telemedicine service in Yangon in December 2012.
It was followed, in June last year, by Thailand’s Thonburi Hospital Group. The privately owned group has signed a US$100 million agreement with Yangon-based Ga Mone Pwint to build two hospitals in the county. The construction of one hospital in Yangon and one in Mandalay, with a combined capacity of 400 beds, is expected to take several years. Thornburi has a 40% stake in the business.
Most recently, the long-expected US$420 million joint venture between Indonesian conglomerate the Lippo Group and First Myanmar Investment to roll out 12 hospitals in Myanmar in the next three to five years, and 20 over the next decade, was formally launched earlier this year.
The demand for healthcare services is certainly there. Ang writes that average annual GDP growth of 7.1% is expected until 2023. The corresponding rise in household income will filter into healthcare, especially as the government only accounted for 27% of healthcare spending in 2013.
By any stretch of the imagination, Myanmar has need of doctors. According to the World Health Organisation, the country has only 6.1 doctors per 10,000 people. This puts it below emerging market peers like Sri Lanka and Pakistan with 6.8 and 8.3 doctors per 10,000 people, respectively. By comparison Singapore boasts 14 doctors per 10,000 people and Japan has 20.
Significantly, Ang points out the same aspirational healthcare dynamics are seen in Myanmar as elsewhere in the region. “There is a preference among patients to seek treatment at private healthcare providers in Myanmar,” he writes citing a 2011 survey of 1,382 households which found that 47% of respondents would rather go to a private clinic for a common illness rather than the 9% minority which visited a public hospital.
Little surprise then that for Ang the outlook for Myanmar is rosy. He concludes: “Myanmar’s long-term income growth potential and low levels of public healthcare infrastructure will herald the entry of private healthcare providers into the country.”
Source: Health Investor Asia