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India health sector aims to bring in Cambodian patients

An Indian pharmacist pulls out a box of medicine from a shelf at a drug store in Bangalore.
An Indian pharmacist pulls out a box of medicine from a shelf at a drug store in Bangalore. Manjunath Kiran/AFP

India health sector aims to bring in Cambodian patients

Indian companies in the pharmaceutical and health care sector are seeking to enhance their footprint in the Kingdom by extending beyond pharmaceutical trade through state financing that could establish a direct link to bring Cambodian medical tourists to the subcontinent.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Advantage Healthcare India 2017 – a summit for medical travel held annually in the southern Indian city of Bangalore – Sandeep Majumdar, president of the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia said that $36 million of last year’s total bilateral trade of $160 million was related to the health care industry.

While health care trade is predominately limited to the import of pharmaceuticals, he said that Cambodia has been identified by the Indian government as a country that has a potential pool of medical tourists.

The state-owned Export-Import Bank of India has already prioritised funding for India health care operators to expand into Cambodia, he added, noting that the demand for quality specialised services in the Kingdom was on the rise.

“Indian hospitals have many specialised services that are not available in Cambodia and that are cheaper than what patients pay in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam or Thailand,” he said.

Apollo Hospitals, which launched a representative office in Phnom Penh in August of last year, is currently the only medical tourism operator trying to bring Cambodian patients to India. However, Majumdar added that numerous Cambodians have travelled to India for serious medical procedures like liver and kidney transplants.

Heng Vichet, managing director of Meet Heng Cambodia Ltd, a company that imports pharmaceuticals and medical devices from India, said that Indian drugs are of high quality and more affordable for the consumer.

“The trend of consuming Indian medicines in Cambodia will keep increasing as its quality is becoming more recognised and the price is affordable,” he said, speculating that the pharmaceutical import market in Cambodia had an estimated value of $800 million annually.

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