The Ministry of Health in Pakistan used to oversee healthcare in the public sector. However, the responsibility for providing healthcare to the general population has now been shifted to the provinces. Unfortunately, the provinces are facing challenges in terms of inadequate health workforce and facilities relative to the size of their populations.
The private sector plays a vital role in the delivery of healthcare services in Pakistan. Most private hospitals, clinics, and health-related facilities are in urban areas and are well-equipped with modern diagnostic facilities. These private health care options are in greater demand than the care available through the public sector. The public health sector services are provided at federal, provincial, and district levels through a well-established network of rural health centers, basic health units, and allied medical professionals.
The Government of Pakistan spent about $785 million on healthcare in the fiscal year ending June 2021. According to a respected research study, the medical devices market in Pakistan is estimated at $500 - $600 million with an estimated growth rate of 15 percent CAGR over the next five years (2019-2023). U.S. healthcare services and medical equipment are generally well-received in Pakistan and are known for their high quality.
The Government of Pakistan imposes no restrictions on foreign direct investment in healthcare services and allows medical equipment imports under its “Open General” regulations, however, imports of radioactive equipment require Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority approval. The import of medical devices and pharmaceuticals products are regulated by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) which is responsible for the registration of medical devices. Manufacturers and importers of medical devices must obtain authorization from DRAP before importing into Pakistan.
With the growing population in Pakistan, the demand for diagnostic and lab equipment is increasing, and demand for the following is expected to grow:
- Monitors, Ventilators, and allied instruments
- Surgical instruments and dental implants
- Diagnostic and imaging equipment
- Orthopedic Appliances, Hearing Aids
- Refurbished X-Ray Machines, Dialysis Machines, Anesthesia Apparatus
- Health IT/Telemedicine/eHealth
Public sector expenditures in health facilities are progressive across the country. The following facilities are expected to grow:
- General Hospitals
- Specialized Hospitals
- Kidney Transplant
- Liver Transplant
- Dialysis Centers
- Cardio-Pulmonary Diseases
- Skin Diseases
- Upgrade and Privatization of Government Hospitals
- Diagnostic Labs
- X-Rays and Ultra- Sonography Labs / Clinics
- Fitness Centers
- Electro Medical Equipment
- Auto-disable Syringes/Safety Syringes
The construction of several private hospitals in Pakistan will also bring opportunities for medical device suppliers.
Competitors include manufacturers from Europe, China, Japan, South Korea, and other countries. In general, U.S. goods and technologies are well regarded and have a reputation for quality and reliability. Local agents note the market is often seeking low cost, and quick decision-making on terms, which can put American companies at a disadvantage.
Other market challenges include low health manpower levels, after-sales service, a lack of training on the use of medical equipment – much equipment is poorly maintained or in disuse - and the underutilization of primary health facilities.