Published: Friday, May 10, 2013

Call for foreign investment in medical equipment industry

Meditex Bangladesh Expo begins in Dhaka

Foreign investors should come forward and invest in the medical equipment-manufacturing sector to tap the huge potential of the local sector, an adviser to the prime minister said yesterday.
“Demand is increasing exponentially in every segment of the health sector, and you [entrepreneurs] don’t need to undertake any study before investment,” said Syed Modasser Ali, adviser for health and family welfare and social welfare affairs to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“Just ensure the quality of your products.”
He inaugurated a three-day fair on medical, healthcare, hospital equipment and supplies at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka.
Exhibitors from the US, Germany, China, Japan, Malaysia, Korea, India, France, Taiwan, Singapore, UK and Argentina are taking part in the ‘Meditex Bangladesh 2013 Expo’ organised by Conference and Exhibition Manage-ment Services (CEMS).
“Human resources is our main resource, and all credit goes to the private sector for converting the population into human resources, despite bureaucratic problems, inadequate infrastructure and utility services,” said the adviser.
In absence of adequate facilities, patients of the middle and upper middleclass groups prefer to go abroad for treatment, said Ahmad Nasiruddin Mahmood, executive member of Board of Investment.
Referring to a study, he said 1.28 lakh patients travelled to India, Thailand and Singapore in 2011-12, taking $87.58 crore through official channels for medical treatment.
“If the unofficial figure, meaning taking money without the knowledge of Bangladesh Bank, and the money spent for the patients’ attendants are taken into consideration, the amount might exceed $200 crore annually or nearly 1.94 percent of our GDP,” he said, quoting the study.
These figures alone justify the need for massive investment in healthcare not only to provide better medical services to the local patients but also to capture a substantial portion of the vast capital outflow, he added.
Demand for investment in the medical equipment sector is high in Bangladesh, said Mahmood. “The projected medical device market was $11.52 crore in 2011 and $12.11 crore in 2012. It stands at $12.70 crore in 2013 and will be $15.04 crore in 2016.”
Against this projected demand, Bangladesh imported medical, surgical and dental equipment worth $5.68 crore in 2006-07 that rose to $14.31 crore in 2011-12, he added.
On the recent countrywide shutdowns, A Sabur Khan, president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “It [hartal] should not be continued. It’s unfortunate that we failed to overcome it even after 42 years of the country’s independence.”
The political parties will have to understand that there are alternatives to protesting, he said.
The fifth version of the expo is aimed at bringing the local medical professionals, doctors, and surgeons to see the latest equipment, devices and instruments that are emerging in the world market, said Meherun N Islam, president and group managing director of CEMS.
A wide range of medical products, including pathology equipment, operation theatre, incentive care unit and radiology or imaging is being showcased at the event that will remain open from 10am to 7pm.