Healthcare in Vietnam – A Growing Market

Current market research conducted by the World Bank stipulated that the healthcare market of Vietnam will triple in growth between the years 2010 and 2020. The country’s government and its entire healthcare sector have pooled their resources and are in the process of making this prediction happen. In doing so, the Vietnamese health care market has overtaken that of its peers: Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

Overview of the Vietnam healthcare sector

Economic growth and demographic changes are driving demand for healthcare services throughout Vietnam, and not just in the two economic centers of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Public, and provincial-level hospitals funded by the governments are undergoing upgrades of their facilities and opening new departments for specialty treatment. Such developments are creating new opportunities for medical devices in Vietnam.

The country represents a potentially large healthcare and medical equipment market. According to Business Monitor International (BMI), Vietnam’s healthcare expenditure was estimated at $16.1 billion in 2017, which represented 7.5 percent of the country’s GDP. BMI forecasts that healthcare spending will grow to $22.7 billion in 2021, recording a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 12.5% from 2017 to 2021.

Vietnam is among the highest growing markets in Asia for pharmaceutical products during 2011–2015 and the country is expected to keep the pace for the next 20 years. The overall market value of the industry in 2015 amounted to about 4.2 billion USD, and it is expected to reach 10 billion USD in 2020.

Medical Equipment

The Vietnamese government encourages the import of medical equipment because local production cannot meet demands. Imported medical equipment has low import duties and no quota restrictions. However, medical devices are subject to regulation and licensing requirements set by Ministry of Health (MOH). Only companies with a legal business entity registered in Vietnam and that have an import license are eligible to distribute medical equipment.


The demand for pharmaceutical products in Vietnam rapidly expanded as a consequence of high economic growth, rising income per capita, higher urban population as well as ageing population.

According to many reports, Vietnam is a fast growing market for pharmaceutical products that
is very attractive to foreign firms at present and in the near future. The market’s growth rate
averaged 17–20% during 2010–2015, making it one of the fastest markets in the region.

The average drug expenditure per capita was 44 USD in 2015, it is estimated that drug spending per capita will double to 85 USD in 2020 and quadruple to 163 USD in 2025.

The rapid growth of pharmaceutical demand in Vietnam can be attributed to a series of economic and social trends. Among these, There are three key drivers including:

  1. high economic growth and increasing personal income;
  2. rising population and rapid urbanization; and
  3. rapid ageing,

which all contribute to people’s higher living standards, stimulating the aggregate consumption of pharmaceutical products. On the other hand, several negative effects such as pollution, insufficient food safety or unsafe living and working conditions also exert impacts on the demand as well.

Before being sold in Vietnam, a drug must be registered to the MOH. The Ministry issues a marketing authorization, usually valid for 5 years, after which the product must be re-registered.

Opportunities in the healthcare market

Vietnam’s desire to modernize the healthcare system should generate plenty of business opportunities in the upcoming years. The first area Vietnam will need to improve is the network of hospitals.

Modernising hospitals will require heavy investment and funding that Vietnam will not be able to fulfill through traditional sources alone. It is currently estimated that every year US$1 billion is spent by over 40,000 Vietnamese patients travelling abroad for healthcare services.

In addition to new hospitals, opportunities also exist in relation to healthcare products and more specifically medical equipment and drugs. In order to improve the Vietnamese healthcare system, the Vietnamese government must modernize its outdated equipment and grant broader access to drugs.

Market research specialists like BMI also predict double-digit growth in the next few years for both the medical equipment and drug markets.

Source: The U.S. Department of Commerce, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

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