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South East Asia is on its way to economic recovery. With economic prospects in the region improving, the markets in Southeast Asia will expect to see high growth rates  and opportunities.

Coupled with the increasing demands for sophisticated healthcare services, many countries are investing more in the well-being of their people.

Most Southeast Asian countries are progressing in various stages of reforms as they progress towards improving the quality of healthcare in their respective countries as outlined below. 


Singapore has built a sound healthcare infrastructure since its independence in 1965 and is bent on maintaining its position as a regional centre for health-care facilities, especially among customers in Southeast Asia. With patients arriving from as far away as India, healthcare generates nearly $ 3 bn (US$1.8bn) in annual turnover. The government has committed large sums towards the development of the industry, with latest data showing it invested $4bn in 1997, 2.8 per cent of GDP.

An attempt at improving expertise in the healthcare industry, is the linking up with reputable healthcare management companies, foreign hospitals and medical centres. Over the past years, various major hospitals have teamed up with well-known institutions such as Pennsylvania University Medical Centre, Standford University Hospital and Royal Melbourne Hospital.

By the year 2000, its Ministry of Health has plans to build one community hospital, one hospital for the chronically sick, 10 nursing homes, and a further 10 rehabilitation centres. The country is also developing its IT initiatives with healthcare-telemedicine, being high on its priority.




Malaysia’s Ministry of Health (MOH), which runs 105 hospitals and funds thousands of small clinics, spends about 5% of the total national budget on healthcare.  Malaysia’s healthcare spending is expected to more than double by 2020 to 7% of GDP.

At present the MOH has plans of setting up a RM15.6  million public health laboratory which has functions similar to that of the Centres for Disease Control in the US. Equipped with an electronic information system and medical testing facilities, it is set to complement medical laboratory facilities in hospitals and public health centres. Other items hot on the healthcare agenda include the promoting of primary care, developing telemedicine in the Multimedia Super Corridor and the passing legislation to regulate the quality and accountability of private healthcare providers.




With an increase of 7.3% in total health spending in 1995 to US$6.6 million, Thailand is making strides in its efforts to attain world-class standards in healthcare.

The  Thai Interior Ministry has plans to increase the number of hospitals in the country. It has allocated funds for the construction of 325 health centres. Median prices recommended for the construction projects range from Baht 200,000 to baht 1 million for each construction project.

Infrastructural upgrading of healthcare centres is likewise taking place around the country. Sukumvit Hospital, for instance he has spent around baht 8 million to baht 10 million just to improve its technical infrastructure.



While the health status of the people has improved significantly since 1970, figures for life expectancy, infant mortality, per-head healthcare spending and the doctor-to-patient ratio, are no less than for countries such as China, Vietnam and Sri Lanka; the Indonesian government has, nonetheless been striving to improve the healthcare standards and facilities available in a country of 212 million people.

This can be seen in the country’s healthcare expenditure - earmarked at Rp1.4 trillion (US$409 million) in the fiscal year beginning April 1998 which makes out to 1.5% of the total budget. In comparison to this, the current allocation for fiscal 1999 at Rp5.3 trillion or 1.4% of the total budget of Rp218.2 trillion is higher.

The number of hospital beds too has increased from 105,181 in 1988  to 121,583 in 1997, and  the government has plans to increase its hospital-bed  capacity. Already on the drawing board is an international hospital with a 120 bed capacity bali.




The Philippine government is making great efforts to upgrade its healthcare system into one of world-class standing. One method will involve the introduction of new concepts of healthcare facilities. This includes the availability of free-standing surgical centres and renal care units that can provide services that were previously only available in far-flung hospitals. In addition, shopping mall full-service outpatient clinics such as Healthway Clinic, Mediserv and Patient First.


The Philippines General Hospital (PGH) also has plans to use telemedicine to improve their services. The National Telehealth Centre of the PGH has already garnered a budget of 20-40 million peso to implement its plan to encourage telemedicine practice in the Manila campus of state-run University of the Philippines. The country’s growing healthcare system has also served to attract foreign investors into the country. Already, a world-class hospital that costs approximately 1 billion peso is under construction by a Singapore-Filipino joint venture while a Korean group has plans to build a hospital in the country.

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