Panama - Country Commercial Guide
Medical Equipment

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-10-13

Overview

 

2018

2019

2020

2021 estimated

Total Local Production

$860

$741

$492

$522

Total Exports

0

0

0

0

Total Imports

$1,140

$1,159

$708

$750

Imports from the U.S.

$

$

$

$

Total Market Size

$2,000

$1,900

$1,200

$1,272

Exchange Rates

1:1

1:1

1:1

1:1

U.S. Dollar Millions.

Source: Office of the Comptroller General and estimates from industry sources. Note: As of April 2020, the recorded inflation rate in Panama for 2019 was -0.4%, below the recorded average of 0.8% for 2018, below the recorded average of 0.9% for 2017. The US dollar is legal tender.

The Cortizo administration pledged to allocate an estimated $6 to $7 billion to the health sector and has a priority to improve Panama’s healthcare facilities.  He announced the construction of several new projects, including a new Children´s Hospital, a new Oncology Hospital, a new hospital in Panama Norte, and an Autism Institute in Panama City, and pledged to complete the construction of the Ciudad de la Salud (Health City) which is in partial operation, a $900 million hospital complex started by the previous government. The government is also interested in fostering the development of the pharmaceutical sector, particularly production of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). 

As with the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Panama’s health sector. For the latest COVID-19 information visit www.minsa.gob.pa.  Panama has received support from the international community, including the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), which announced a $400 million loan to help Panama deal with the economic crisis originated by COVID-19. Additionally, the IDB provided an $8.75 million loan to purchase medical supplies and services for the indigenous population living in remote areas (Comarcas). The United States donated 500,000 vaccines to Panama in July 2021 and vaccination rates are high.

Panama’s medical equipment market is estimated to grow by at a minimum of 30% over the next three years.  The medical equipment market in 2019 reached $170 million, with U.S. equipment holding a market share of 42% or $71 million. The public sector is the primary end-user of medical equipment, composed of the Social Security Fund (CSS) and the Ministry of Health (MINSA). The largest health care facilities are in the Panama City metropolitan area, which holds close to 50% of the country’s population. The private sector is experiencing strong growth and has modern medical facilities.

There are 923 health centers, of which 844 are run by the Ministry of Health (MINSA) and 79 by the Social Security Fund (Caja de Seguro Social - CSS). Of these health centers, there are 33  general hospitals, 18 managed by the Ministry of Health, and 15 by the CSS.  The Ministry of Health provides health services by contract to workers affiliated with the CSS.  There are 2.3 beds per 1,000 inhabitants; 4,200 belong to the Ministry of Health, 3,187 to the CSS, while 1,043 are in private facilities.

The major hospitals managed by MINSA are the Hospital Santo Tomas; Hospital San Miguel Arcangel; Hospital Oncologico (Oncological Hospital) and Hospital del Niño (Children´s Hospital) in Panama City; Hospital Nicolas Solano in Chorrera; Hospital “Chicho Fabrega” in Santiago, Veraguas; and Hospital de David in Chiriqui. The CSS manages: Complejo Hospitalario Metropolitano “Arnulfo Arias” (largest hospital complex in Panama), the Susana Jones Hospital, the Hospital de Especialidades Pediátricas (Children´s Hospital) in Panama City; the Manuel Amador Guerrero Hospital in Colon, several regional hospitals in Chitre, Los Santos and Cocle.   Major private hospitals in Panama City are: Clinica Hospital Paitilla (affiliated with the Spanish Hospiten Group), Hospital Pacífica Salud (affiliated with Johns Hopkins from the U.S.), Clinica Hospital San Fernando, Hospital Panama, Hospital Nacional, Clinica Hospital de Rio Abajo, and Hospital Santa Fe in Panama City. In the rest of the country, the most important hospitals are Hospital Cuatro Altos in Colon, Hospital David in Chiriqui, Centro Medico San Juan Bautista in Chitre, and Clinica Hospital Jesus Nazareno in Santiago. All of the private hospitals are general hospitals.

One of the Cortizo administration’s challenges is to provide health care to the indigenous regions in east and west Panama (Ngobe Bugle, Embera, and Guna groups).  These groups represent approximately 13% of the country´s population, but there are no major hospitals and clinics in those areas and they contain less than 5% of the country´s total health personnel.

Panama has a long-term goal of increasing medical tourism. To that end, private hospitals continue to make a substantial investment in increasing their capacity and quality of services. Reports indicate that more than 30% of the country´s total investment in hospital facilities and equipment has come from the private sector.

The public sector requires certification of medical equipment by the Ministry of Health and its Social Security Administration. The private sector has no restrictions regarding the procurement of medical equipment. The National Directory for Medical Devices is responsible for the registration and technical standards of medical devices. Medical equipment sold to government institutions must have a datasheet (Ficha Tecnica) which certifies the equipment is approved for government use.  Private health care facilities do not require a Ficha Tecnica.  There are several organizations that can certify the datasheet:  the Ministry of Health, the Social Security System (CSS), the Santo Tomas Hospital, the Children´s Hospital, and the Oncology Hospital.

There is no local production of medical equipment.  The market relies entirely on imports from Asia (Japan, Korea, China, and Singapore) and Europe (Sweden, Spain, Holland, and Germany).  The United States has market participation of approximately 40 percent. The U.S. equipment is known for its high quality, reliability, and quick delivery. Furthermore, Panamanian medical equipment distributors representing U.S. brands have well-trained staff and offer excellent technical support.  A shortlist of prominent U.S. brand names well-known in Panama are Baxter, Beckman, General Electric, Puritan Bennett, Hewlett-Packard, Abbot, Braun, Datascope, Medtronic, Zoll, and Welch-Allyn.  Competing brands are Phillip from Holland, Siemens from Germany; Pantex from Japan, Purple Surgical from England, and Electa from Sweden.

To successfully compete in Panama, U.S. exporters should appoint a local distributor with extensive public procurement experience. The U.S. Commercial Service in Panama can assist in finding a distributor. For a list of our services visit www.trade.gov.

Leading Sub-Sectors

  • Intensive Care Equipment: ventilators, infusion pumps, cardiac monitors, endotracheal tubes, arteria lines, and infusion pumps.
  • Diagnosis Equipment: radiology,  ultrasound, CAT, and angiographic equipment.
  • Cardiovascular Equipment: electro and echo-cardiographs, defibrillators, and blood testing equipment.
  • Surgical Equipment: anesthetic, blood-circulation, ventilators, and operating-room equipment.
  • Laboratory Equipment: chromatography equipment and clinical chemistry, hematology, and histology analyzers.

Opportunities

  • Demand from U.S.-trained Panamanian doctors who have a strong preference for U.S. equipment and technology.
  • Construction of new hospitals in Panama City.
  • Medical research by the Gorgas Memorial Institute of Health Services and the Institute for Scientific Research and High Technology Services of Panama (INDICASAT)..

Resources

- Ministry of Health (MINSA)

- Caja del Seguro Social (CSS)

- American Chamber of Commerce in Panama:

- Panama Chamber of Commerce

- Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Services

- Institute for Scientific Research and High Technology Services of Panama (INDICASAT):