Developing Global Partnerships in Health since 1978
Swecare in collaboration with the Swedish Trade Council, the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok and Hanoi, arranged a trade delegation headed by Maria Larsson, Minister for Children and the Elderly, to Thailand and Vietnam, September 30 – October 4, 2012.
The business delegation consisted of representatives from Bactiguard, Boule Medical, EKN, Elekta, Getinge, HemoCue, Lioness Light Ions, Pharmacure Health Care and SEK. Getinge and Pharmacure Health Care only participated in Vietnam.
From Swecare, Maria Helling, CEO and Patrik Barje, Project Manager (B4D) participated in the delegation. While Thailand is a part of Swecare ordinary work, Sida has initially identified Vietnam as a possible pilot country under Swecare´s B4D financed project. Hence, the visit to Vietnam was a good opportunity to evaluate whether there are opportunities for trade and collaboration with the country under the B4D financed project.
Day 1, Bangkok, Thailand
The day started with a presentation by the Swedish Trade Council on the healthcare market in Thailand. Today, Thailand is facing tremendous challenges from the rise of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The market for medical equipment is expected to increase the coming years. The majority of Thailand’s hospitals are public, but the country is also one of the world leaders in health tourism.
The day continued with a meeting at the Bangkok Hospital which is Thailand’s largest private actor with 29 hospitals. Bangkok Hospital strives to always have the latest equipment. During the visit there was a presentation of the hospital. Moreover, the company N-Health which is a medical service provider, supporting hospitals in Thailand, held a presentation on their procurement processes. The representative from N-Health found interest in some of the companies.
In conjunction with Minister Maria Larsson’s meeting at the Ministry of Public Health, the companies had the opportunity to meet Dr. Surawit Konsomboon, Deputy Minister of Public Health. This was followed by a meeting with the permanent secretary. During the meeting the companies could ask questions regarding their specific healthcare areas.
Moreover, the delegation had a meeting at the Food and Drug Administration that approves and regulates imports of medical devices. Due to lack of focus on medical devices, the meeting was not as constructive as one would have hoped. However, some of the delegates had previously experienced a smooth process with the Food and Drug Administration.
Day 2, Bangkok, Thailand
The second day in Bangkok started with a SymbioCare Forum with presentations and panel discussions on the themes; non-communicable diseases, fight against hospital acquired infections and multiresistant bacterias, and accessible healthcare. Minister Maria Larsson held a keynote speech based upon the SymbioCare presentation. Moreover, Dr. Surawit Konsomboon, Deputy Minister of Public Health held a speech about the goals and challenges within Thailand. During the Healthcare Forum an exhibition was organized where the delegates were able to show their products for the participants. Minister Maria Larsson guided Dr. Surawit Konsomboon, Deputy Minister of Public Health through the exhibition making sure he would visit each company. The Forum ended with a VIP networking lunch. Even though we expected a greater number of Thai participants, the once present showed a great interest for the Swedish companies.
In the afternoon, the delegation visited Bumrungrad Hospital, South East Asia’s largest private hospital. Bumrungrad Hospital is planning for great investments in the future and furthermore to open a second hospital.
The last hospital visit in Bangkok was at Chulabhorn Hospital which works within cancer treatment, prevention and research.
In the evening, Swedish Ambassador Klas Molin hosted a dinner reception with VIP guests from Ministry of Public Health, Thai hospitals and business delegation partners/distributors/agents.
Day 3, Hanoi, Vietnam
The first day in Hanoi started with a presentation by the Swedish Trade Council on the healthcare market in Vietnam. Healthcare expenditures in Vietnam are expected to increase over the next five years. Communicable diseases and lack of basic healthcare remain a problem. However, Vietnam is also starting to see an increasing rate of lifestyle diseases. Over 90% of the hospitals in Vietnam are run by the government. The demand for sophisticated healthcare gradually increases which boost demand for private providers and more advanced medical equipment. The Vietnamese government has recently encouraged private participation in the healthcare sector.
Minister Maria Larsson accompanied the delegation to a meeting at the Ministry of Health. Sweden and Vietnam has had a close cooperation for more than forty years and Sweden has granted financial aid for building hospitals and developing the country’s healthcare strategies. Hence, the aid from Sweden will stop by 2013 the focus of the cooperation will move from “aid to trade”. Within the coming years many public hospitals will be upgraded and private hospital will be built. During the meeting, all companies were given the opportunity to present themselves and ask questions.
The last meeting for the day was held at Peoples Committee Hanoi. The Peoples Committee Hanoi is an executive organ of the Municipal Peoples Council. The Hanoi Department of Health is a professional agency of the Hanoi People´s Committee, working under the leadership, guidance, inspection and professional supervision if the Ministry of Health.
Day 4, Hanoi, Vietnam
The second day in Hanoi started with a SymbioCare Forum. The setup was the same as in the SymbioCare Forum in Bangkok with presentations and panel discussions on the themes; non-communicable diseases, fight against hospital acquired infections and multiresistant bacterias, and accessible healthcare. However, compared to Bangkok there was a great turn up to the event in Hanoi with around 130 participants. Consequently, in Vietnam there is a great interest for the Swedish healthcare system and our companies.
In the afternoon the delegation, accompanied by Maria Larsson, visited the National Hospital of Pediatrics. The hospital has historically a strong relationship with Sweden. A presentation was held about the hospital and Minister Maria Larsson held introductory remarks. The companies presented themselves. The question of aid was brought up by the hospital management and one could question whether the visit was of great interest for the companies.
The visit to the National Hospital of Pediatrics was followed by a visit to K-Hospital Hanoi´s recently opened 300 bed hospital K-3, outside Hanoi. Medical equipment for this facility has not yet been purchased and installed. A major part of their medical equipment is outdated and some as old as 40 years. At K-3 there should be good business opportunities.
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