Insights and Opportunities
Overview: Current government spending on health related programs accounts for 7.8% of Colombia’s Gross Domestic Product-GDP virtually assuring continued growth of the sector. In September 2008, the Uribe government enacted a law to achieve universal coverage by 2010. Field experts forecast a 15% increase of public investment fueled by implementation of the Universal Coverage Law. Other factors have positioned Colombia’s medical industry for growth. The past positive economic climate fueled the demand for construction of new facilities throughout Colombia. The current economic crisis will likely slow down these projects in 2009.
In June 2008, the Colombian Health Ministry (Ministerio de la Protección Social) joined the Pan-American Health Organization’s Safe Surgery Initiative to reduce the incidence of complications from surgery. Enhanced focus on technology and medical security will boost the reconversion and modernization of hospitals, clinics and clinical laboratories. Medical tourism is developing quickly mainly for plastic surgery, ophthalmology – where Colombia is considered a leader in advanced techniques – as well as trauma and orthodontist work.
According to the World Health Organization, over 70% of medical decisions in developed countries are based on clinical laboratory results, whereas in developing countries such as Colombia, decisions based on laboratory results are only near 30%. Colombia’s health care system improvement aims to upgrade clinical laboratories to guarantee quality of the health sector. The market for clinical laboratory medical equipment will benefit from this increase of income surveillance. Medical, surgical, dental or veterinary instruments and electro medical equipment remain a leading market. But due to both government policies and demand, the potential for future growth is with diagnostic imaging equipment for American products.
Best Products/Services: Non-electrical medical, surgical, dental or veterinary instruments; Prosthetic devices; Diagnostic imaging equipment; Laboratory equipment and consumables; Ultrasound, mammography and cardiovascular equipment; Dermatological and laser treatment apparel (boosted by medical tourism and expanding plastic surgery demand); and Intensive care, cardiology, neurology and oncology related equipment.
An increasingly stable political environment, along with an expanding domestic medical market, serves as a promising picture for U.S. exporters. U.S. medical equipment remains to be very popular in Colombia with less market penetration from other countries. Other outstanding opportunities will result from the long-term impact and trend on public funding for medical equipment of the Colombian Social Health Insurance (NSHI). Government’s reforms to up grade and renew technology in hospitals and clinics will also foster the acquisition of U.S. medical imports.
The Colombian Government promise of $1 billion in investments to open Free Trade Zones for the health sector throughout the country as of 2009, as well as the implementation of Plan Vallejo (mechanism under which Colombian firm scan import with entire or partial tax and rights exemption for consumables, commodities, intermediate goods, capital goods (machinery) if used in the production of goods and services destined primarily for Colombian exports) for technology imports, will represent an increase of U.S. medical equipment demand supported by stricter enforcement of intellectual property rights, a good market size and a resilient economy.
Licenses for hospital construction and remodeling grew over 3,400% in 2008, boosted by a greater demand for an esthetic dentistry, plastic surgery and spa services by expats and foreigners seeking to improve their appearance. Colombia is looking at expanding its export of services for chronic conditions in general with an emphasis on cardiovascular and cancer treatment due to its expertise and infrastructures. The projected success of this industry as led management to upgrade infrastructures, medical equipment and even trains their staff in English. Other windows of business opportunities are the new and inclusive movement of medical trade-shows that will take place in Bogota and nationwide to promote international medical equipment. MEDITECH trade-show in Bogota will be one of the most important events within the sector.