Singapore - Country Commercial Guide
Healthcare

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

Last published date: 2020-09-16

Overview

Singapore’s healthcare market is expected to grow to $21.4 billion this year, a 9% rise over last year’s $19.6 billion, according to a Fitch Solutions market insight report in March 2020.  By 2029, the market will more than double to $49.4 billion.  Singapore’s healthcare spending, comprising both public and private healthcare expenditure, is expected to account for 5.9% of GDP and could go up to 9% by 2029.  This increase is largely attributed to rising government spending on healthcare, as well as the local population’s consumption of healthcare services, given the aging population and a trend towards earlier diagnosis of chronic conditions, close monitoring and follow-up.  Government healthcare expenditure is estimated at $13.2 billion in 2020, and this is expected to triple to $36 billion by 2029.  The Fitch report, however, estimated a modest rise for private healthcare expenditure, from a forecast of $8.2 billion in 2020 to $13.5 billion in 2029.

In March 2019, Newsweek magazine ranked the Singapore General Hospital as the third-best in the world, crediting the hospital’s clinical research and outstanding nursing care while in 2017, Singapore took the top position in progress towards the health-related UN Sustainable Development Goals and in the Global Innovation Index 2017.  A 2016 Lancet medical journal report also placed Singapore in the top ranks for global healthcare, along with Iceland and Sweden and the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Singapore’s healthcare system as sixth globally, offering the fourth best healthcare infrastructure in the world. 

Singapore currently provides universal coverage for its citizens with multiple layers of care.  It ranked second in the Bloomberg Healthcare Efficiency Index 2016 and is increasingly acknowledged for having achieved excellent healthcare outcomes at modest costs.  The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) also placed Singapore second in the world for best healthcare outcomes.  Among its ASEAN peers, it spends the most annually in healthcare on a per capita basis and this is expected to rise faster than GDP given the aging population and changes in demographics. 

Singapore serves as the healthcare and medical hub of the region and offers Asia’s best healthcare system.  The Joint Commission International (JCI) has accredited 23 Singapore hospitals and healthcare facilities.  Each year, Singapore draws over 350,000 patients with its high-quality healthcare.  Prominent international healthcare and research organizations such as the American Association for Cancer Research, Duke University, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and JCI have established a presence here.  The research institutes work with scientists here to accelerate drug discovery and develop therapies for unmet healthcare needs.

Singapore has strong fundamentals in healthcare excellence.  This emphasis on quality care has enabled the country to achieve high life expectancies, fourth in the world, and the lowest infant mortality in the world.  The challenge is it has one of the fastest aging populations in Asia, which will translate to a greater demand for specialized elderly care amid rising costs. 

In 2019, imports of medical equipment and supplies to Singapore increased by 6% over the previous year.  The outlook for 2020, however, will likely see a decline in imports due to the ongoing global pandemic and disruptions to transport routes and supply chains, as well as slowdown of demand from the regional economies.  Medical supplies and personal protective equipment will continue to see demand as these are deemed essential.  Based on available data, the market for medical devices is anticipated to shrink by approximately 8% this year.   Imports are expected to fall by approximately 20%, with imports from the U.S. seeing the same decline.  Healthcare facilities will continue to come on stream and be equipped, healthcare procedures, both urgent and elective, will continue to be offered, thus ensuring the resilience of the healthcare sector.  U.S. medical equipment and supplies accounted for 26% of market share in 2019 and this has stayed consistent over the last few years.  On average, more than 75% of products imported into Singapore are subsequently re-exported.

Medical devices are regulated under the Health Products Act and Health Products (Medical Devices) regulations.  Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA) oversees the system of statutory control aimed to safeguard the quality, safety and efficacy of medical devices available in Singapore.  Almost all medical devices are regulated.  Class A medical devices supplied in a non-sterile state are exempted, however, Class A sterile, Class B, C, and D medical devices are subject to product registration requirements.  Classification rules are adopted from the guidance developed by the Global Harmonization Task Force (GHTF).

ASEAN has been developing a uniform system for registering and assessing medical devices across the ten-member countries.  Various ASEAN economies have started adoption of the ASEAN Medical Device Directive (AMDD).  This requires ASEAN countries to adopt uniform classification criteria for medical devices.  This bodes well for U.S. medical device manufacturers as they will be able to easily access a common medical device market with a market size of more than 600 million people.  Adherence to the basic principles of the AMDD in ASEAN will likely take place over the next few years.

 

2017

2018

2019

2020 (Estimated)

Total Local Production

17,428

20,166

22,222

17,914

Total Exports

29,419

32,226

35,923

28,357

Total Imports

15,293

16,175

17,163

13,600

Imports from the US

4,514

4,455

4,503

3,501

Total Market Size

3,301

4,116

3,462

3,157

Exchange Rates

1.34

1.36

1.34

1.39

$US millions (total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports)

Data Sources: Singapore Government Trade Statistics

 

Leading Sub-Sectors

Healthcare demand and spending will increase due to an aging population, heavier chronic disease burdens, advances in technology and rising expectations.  There will be three shifts in the Health Ministry, and these are: Beyond Healthcare to Health; Beyond Hospital to Community; Beyond Quality to Value.  The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has also led to the government refocusing efforts aimed at enhanced infection control measures, pandemic readiness and continued healthcare delivery and disease-management amidst a pandemic.  Health technologies are gaining much attention.  

Singapore declared a war on diabetes in 2016 as statistics have shown a rise in incidents of diabetes where approximately 8% of the population is diabetic.  The Ministry of Health is determined to arrest this and has dedicated resources to combat this growing trend.  There are currently more than 400,000 diabetics, costing Singapore over $740 million yearly.  This is expected to rise to $1.8 billion if the trend is not arrested.  A holistic approach encompassing regular health screenings, lifestyle changes and exercise has been adopted.  Opportunities therefore exist for U.S. suppliers of health and wellness products.

The mandate of the Health Ministry is to deliver affordable healthcare, ensuring good medical outcomes, reducing illness and promoting good health, and ensuring that the country is resilient against communicable disease threats and civil emergencies.  A $5.6 billion budget has been allocated to address infrastructure concerns in the short and long term, as well as healthcare provision and subsidies for the poor.  The three key areas of focus are healthcare infrastructure, healthcare delivery, and managing the associated costs and issues related to an aging population.  This budget also includes larger subsidies for surgical implants, the treatment and management of chronic diseases, as well as funding programs to promote healthy lifestyle and active-aging programs.

For the long term, the Singapore government remains committed to ensuring that the national healthcare system keeps pace with global medical advancements.  To keep up with advances in biomedical science and encourage the development of new clinical treatments for Singaporeans, the Ministry of Health, in partnership with A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) and several other governmental bodies, have invested $53 million in clinical and translational research.  Another $10.6 million has been set aside for the development of new clinical services.  The aim is to augment Singapore’s medical capabilities in the public healthcare system and position Singapore as the premier regional medical services hub.  U.S. exporters that provide cutting-edge technology, laboratory and testing equipment, and services for the healthcare and research communities will find Singapore a lucrative market.

The elderly (defined as over 65 years) currently represent 10.7% of the total population, higher than all the other ASEAN countries.  Within the next twenty years, Singapore will experience what is known as ‘hyper-aging.’  Over a quarter of the population will be 65 years and older by 2030.  As such, more facilities for the elderly, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, need to be built.  The demand for services such as geriatric medicine and rehabilitation medicine are expected to rise as is demand for homecare services.  U.S. firms specializing in elder-care products and services will find a robust and growing market in Singapore.

Opportunities

The demand for healthcare has grown substantially as a result of population growth and aging.  The national healthcare expenditure has recorded 11% increases every year since 2012.   Broadly speaking, the opportunities are in health IT solutions that focus on telemedicine, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and the protection of data contained in electronic health records and data sharing.  Others include personal health management, health screening, disease management, preventive care products, access to homecare resources, and advanced technologies that would enable seamless integrated healthcare.   

A Frost and Sullivan Asia Pacific healthcare market report estimated that the Asia Pacific region comprises close to 33% of the global healthcare market and is estimated to be valued at $521 billion.  Medical device industry trends in Asia are centered on imaging, cardiovascular, blood pressure monitoring, and healthcare IT.  A key driver for the Southeast Asian region is the impending liberalization of the services sector this year under the ASEAN agreement. 

Singapore is renowned for its role as a healthcare hub for the region, treating patients from neighboring Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, and more recently, from the Americas, Europe, and the Asia Pacific.

Government hospitals account for 80% of all hospital beds in Singapore while the private sector accounts for 20%.

Demand for medical equipment comes from public and private hospitals and clinics.  The Health Ministry is the largest consumer, accounting for nearly 75% of local demand. All public and the majority of private sector hospitals are Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited.  Parkway Hospitals Singapore, the largest private sector healthcare provider in Singapore, is also a significant buyer of medical equipment.  More than 80% of local demand is met through imports and there is a premium placed on American-made products.  U.S. manufacturers with innovative products will find Singapore a good marketplace.

Singapore will invest in primary care infrastructure such as polyclinics and community health centers.  Other areas include innovative models of treating patients, the use of artificial intelligence and robotics.  Digital technologies that focus on cybersecurity and the protection of medical health records are also of interest given the 2018 Singhealth medical health records data breach.  This is especially important as the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) project, launched nine years ago and valued at US$144 million, will mean that each citizen will have his or her own electronic medical record.

Between now and 2035, parts of the Singapore General Hospital, to be renamed the Outram Campus and Community Hospital, will expand with major redevelopment of Singapore’s oldest and largest hospital set to take place.  More polyclinics will be built and this will bring the total to 32 by 2030.  The National Centre for Infectious Disease, which opened in April 2019, is a 330-bed hospital for infectious disease.  It has been instrumental in Singapore’s containment of the COVID-19 pandemic this year.  A key feature is its high-level isolation unit for treating high-risk pathogens and bio-threat agents.  In addition, a new 12-story, $135 million National Heart Center building, three times larger than the size of the existing one, is currently being built at the Singapore General Hospital and scheduled for completion later this year or early 2021.  Other infrastructure projects include the Woodlands Health Campus to be completed in 2022, a new integrated acute and community hospital in the east, the redevelopment of Alexandra Hospital with more built-in space to trial models of care, and the existing Tan Tock Seng Hospital.  A tender for medical planning consultancy services for Alexandra Hospital will be called sometime in the second half of 2020 and all these projects are scheduled to progressively come on stream between 2022 and 2036.

Web Resources

Trade Shows

            Asia Pacific Medtech Forum 2021
            April 26-28, 2021

Edercare Exhibition & Conference Asia 2021 (Eldex Asia)

November 5-7, 2021

International Dental Exhibition and Meeting 2022 (IDEM)

April, 2022

VitaFoods Asia 2020/ 2021

November 24-25, 2020 / Dates to be confirmed

Singapore Government Offices

Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH)

MOH Holdings (MOHH)

Integrated Health Information System (IHiS)

 Health Sciences Authority (HSA)

 Health Promotion Board (HPB)

 Agency for Integrated Care (AIC)

 Singapore Economic Development Board (SEDB)

 Agency for Science, Technology & Resarch (A*STAR)

 

U.S. Commercial Service, Singapore Contact

Ms. Luanne Theseira, Commercial Specialist

Email: Luanne.Theseira@trade.gov