Opportunities for drugmakers in Cambodia limited despite rising diseases | Healthcare Asia Magazine
, Cambodia

Opportunities for drugmakers in Cambodia limited despite rising diseases

Low government funding has affected the quality of healthcare in public hospitals.

Commercial opportunities for drugmakers in Cambodia will remain limited despite the rising burden of both communicable and non-communicable diseases in the country, according to a report from Fitch Solutions.

The report noted that Cambodia's healthcare infrastructure remains underdeveloped with 0.9 hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants, restricting overall access to pharmaceuticals and medical services, further exacerbated by low government funding that has affected the quality of healthcare in public hospitals.

“Whilst the government’s plans to implement a universal healthcare programme will provide revenue earning opportunities to pharmaceutical companies and improve the healthcare coverage of a growing population, the poor level of access to medical services, as well as the financial sustainability of the scheme will remain key challenges that will weigh on its overall effectiveness,” the report stated.

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Additionally, the country's rural population, accounting for around 78% of the total population, has a much higher preference for traditional and low-value generic medicines, as well as limited access to health facilities.

With regards to innovative medicines, corruption, a lack of adequate financing and cumbersome bureaucracy were also blamed for hindering the registration of patented drugs, especially those of foreign origin, while also giving rise to counterfeiting.

“Moreover, revenue prospects for high-value medicines remain limited due to the low purchasing power of the population and the dominance of out-of-pocket spending in healthcare financing,” the report added.

A shift in lifestyle is expected to remain responsible for the rising diabetes burden in Cambodia.  Currently, more than 600,000 people in Cambodia are currently living with diabetes and another 600,000 are expected to develop the disease.

The proportion of undiagnosed cases also poses a significant concern for the healthcare system, Fitch said, as there are numerous medical complications that can result from undiagnosed diabetes, leading to considerable indirect healthcare costs.

Moreover, access to services for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes remains challenging in the country, as several healthcare institutions do not have the capacity to diagnose, treat and monitor diabetes as well as provide follow-up care for patients.

“Additionally, a substantial proportion of the healthcare staff at the primary level are not adequately trained to treat the disease resulting in a significant treatment gap among patients with diabetes in the country,” Fitch said.

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