The Industry Ministry projects 80% of Thailand's 300 manufacturers of medical devices will be certified with the ISO standard by 2020.
Hathai Uthai, deputy director-general of the Office of Industrial Economics, said 80 operators have the ISO 13485 standard for the design and manufacture of medical devices.
The ministry has received a budget of 24 million baht this year for promoting medical tools, which include many products ranging from dental tools and lenses to rubber gloves
The current number of operators with ISO certification is quite low if the sector is to become more competitive once the Asean Economic Community is established in 2016, Mr Hathai told a forum yesterday on the future of the medical and healthcare industry.
Preecha Bhandtivej, president of the Thai Medical Device Technology Industry Association, said it is essential for factories to receive certification or else they will not be able to export products.
Khanat Kruthkul, an adviser to the Industry Ministry's medical device industry development committee, said Thailand last year exported more than 80 billion baht worth of medical devices, up 10% from 2011, thanks to an increase in foreign players, skilled labour and Thailand's growth as a medical hub.
Imports of medical devices expanded 15% to 40 billion baht last year.
The ministry set up a committee for medical devices two years ago in an attempt to develop Thailand as a hub for medical devices and health by 2020.
"Thailand's growth of imports is high compared with average worldwide growth of 10%. However, the value of our exports is even less than 1% of the total value of the world's medical tools," said Dr Khanat, also a doctor at Ramathibodi Hospital.
Singapore is the top exporter of medical tools in the Asean region, followed by Thailand, but Singapore does not produce its own products.
"However, Malaysia is becoming more competitive as its government provides full support. Thailand cannot be a medical hub even with talented doctors if it still buys equipment," Dr Khanat said.
About the author
- Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth
Position: News Reporter