Current Market Trends
Capital: Dhaka Population: 160 Million (Approx.)
Currency: Taka (BDT)
Currently the 57th largest economy in the world, Bangladesh has made significant socio-economic improvements in recent years resulting in improved healthcare indicators such as lower mortality rates and increased life expectancy. Government reforms, growing per-capita income, increased demand, and private sector innovation and investments all make this a promising sector. Further growth will be driven by significant investments in healthcare and pharmaceutical facilities, private-public projects, and modern diagnostics.
Healthcare is a priority in Bangladesh and the country has made remarkable progress in achieving health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Over the past decade, the country has reduced child mortality, improved maternal health, and decreased the incidence rate for many serious diseases, resulting in increased life-expectancy for Bangladeshis. Bangladesh's well-organized pharmaceutical industry has substantially contributed to the country's healthcare sector with considerable manufacturing capabilities and the ability to meet most domestic demand. Currently valued at $2 billion, the healthcare sector has maintained consistent growth and attracted global attention for its low manufacturing costs and high-quality standards. Bangladeshi medicines are exported to many countries in the world and leading companies are making forays into Europe, the United States, and Australia.
The healthcare sector in Bangladesh is one of the country’s most technology developed sectors. Healthcare is available through both the public sector and private sectors. The Government of Bangladesh encourages foreign companies to partner with local companies for producing drugs, especially high-tech and specialized products. To enter the healthcare sector in Bangladesh, a company is required to provide the necessary application and supporting documents. For pharmaceutical companies, the applications will go to the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA). Medical colleges need to partner with a medical hospital and applications will be submitted to the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Bangladesh offers opportunities for U.S. exporters of high-end medical equipment, surgical instruments, diagnostic equipment, and services. Imported medicines and medical devices are subject to customs duties depending on types and classes. Anti-cancer drugs, vaccines, hormonal contraceptives, and others can be imported without any tax. The medical device sector is not currently strictly regulated, although a policy for doing so has been drafted and is now awaiting approval. Price is a major factor in the domestic pharmaceutical market, which consists predominantly of branded generics. Locally manufactured medicines are very affordable and well-accepted by physicians and patients.
Current Market Trends
Bangladesh has the 8th largest population in the world with more than 166 million people. A Least Developed Country (LDC), Bangladesh has made commendable progress in achieving health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Consistent economic growth, increased government expenditures for healthcare, and improved access to medical facilities are contributing to the growth of this sector.
In Bangladesh, healthcare services are organized at primary (community), secondary (district), and tertiary (universities/specialized) levels. Primary health care is given at three levels from three different types of facilities: Community Clinics for populations of six thousand, Union Health and Family Welfare Centers (UHFWC) for populations of about thirty thousand, and Upazila Health Complexes (UHC) for populations of about 300,000 – 400,000. At the district level, secondary level district hospitals with 150 – 250 beds provide secondary healthcare services. Medical college hospitals and specialized hospitals and institutes provide tertiary or specialized health services in urban areas. There are a number of modern, specialized hospitals, mostly located in urban areas, but they are insufficient to meet growing demand. Every year a significant number of patients travel overseas for advanced medical care. The hospital services market has the potential to grow to meet high domestic demand for quality care. There are initiatives from both the public and private sectors for a number of new specialty and super-specialty hospitals, with tremendous opportunities for overseas hospital chains to set up healthcare facilities.
The drivers behind market growth are:
The main competitors for Bangladesh for healthcare treatment and services are India, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia. Those who can afford to will also travel to the United Kingdom and the United States.
Through both public and private expenditures, Bangladesh spends 3.7% of GDP on healthcare, a very small amount compared to developed countries which spend 8-12% of GDP. The government contribution to health expenditure is even lower, at 1.1%. There is significant room for market expansion as the country enters lower-middle income status.
The fact that more than two-thirds of total health expenditure is out-of-pocket (privately financed) indicates that people are willing to pay for better healthcare. A few NGOs have started a health insurance component within their package of micro-credit programs. In Bangladesh, supply-side financing has historically been the backbone of health care services as a strategy to improve the access of poor households to essential health care services. There are now also some demand-side financing mechanisms, such as a maternal health voucher scheme implemented in 33 Upazilas. These programs to increase demand have been found to significantly improve access and utilization of maternal health services.
One of the fastest growing in Bangladesh with 231 companies in this sector. Market size is about $380 million per year, 95% met by local companies 5% imported (mainly cancer drugs, vaccines for viral diseases, and hormones).
There is high demand for healthcare facilities and insufficient quantity. According to the “Household Income and Expenditure Survey”, only 25% of Bangladeshi families were covered by the social safety net program in 2010, compared to a global average of almost 60%. Total beds are 92,404; this is only .6 beds per 1000 people whereas the WHO recommends 3.5 per 1000.
Currently, there are no specific legislative controls over the importation and sale of medical devices.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) is responsible for formulating national-level policy, planning, and decision-making in the provision of healthcare and education. The national-level policies, plans, and decisions are translated into actions by various implementing authorities and healthcare delivery systems across the country from national to the community level. The Ministry and its relevant regulatory bodies also have indirect control over the healthcare system of the NGOs and the private sector. The healthcare situation in the capital Dhaka may be used as a snapshot of the healthcare sector status in Bangladesh. The majority of high quality medical institutions are centered in the city of Dhaka and it acts as the hub for medical service dissemination across the country.
Any direct foreign investor in Bangladesh needs to submit a project proposal to the Board of Investment (BoI) for scrutiny before getting approval. Once registered with BoI, companies investing in hospitals and medical educations need to obtain a license from the Directorate General for Health Services (DGHS). Pharmaceutical and medical device companies in turn have to go through the Directorate General for Drug Administration (DGDA) for licensing. However, both the licenses need to be vetted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the main responsible entity for all the sub-sectors under healthcare.
For registration, the following documents have to be attached and submitted to the DGDA (for pharmaceuticals), University Grants Commission (UGC) for Medical Colleges and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for hospitals:
The Embassy of the United States of America supports the Department of Commerce's International Buyers' Program (IBP) by recruiting delegations on regular intervals for the IBP trade shows. The following IBP shows focus on healthcare sectors:
An international event for healthcare IT Professionals and a platform for showcasing cutting-edge healthcare IT products.
A premiere event showcasing new healthcare technology.
The world’s largest exposition for clinical laboratory products and services.
In addition to these events, Bangladesh hosts several trade events on healthcare sector:
An annual International Exhibition for the South Asian Pharmaceutical Industry.
Bangladesh’s biggest exhibition for medical equipment, surgical instruments, healthcare, and hospital equipment and supplies.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
Directorate General of Health Services
Directorate General of Drug Administration
Directorate General of Health Economic Unit
Directorate General of Family Planning
National Institute of Population Research & Training
Central Procurement Technical Unit
Directorate for Nursing Services
Revitalization of Community-based Healthcare Initiatives in Bangladesh Project
Center for Research and Information
Government Health Plans
UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG)
Health Nutrition and Population Sector Program (HNPSP)
Improving Health and Nutrition for Hard-to-Reach Mothers and Young Children
Support to the Health Sector Development Program
Strategic Plan for Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Development Program
U.S. Commercial Service Contact Information
Name: U.S. Trade Center
Position: Economic and Commercial Specialist
Phone: +880-2-5566 2000
Notice to Visitors!
The link you have chosen will take you to a non-U.S. Government website.
If the page does not appear in 5 seconds, please click this: outside web site
Export.gov is managed by the International Trade Administration and
external links are covered by its website disclaimer statement.
BuyUSA.gov is managed by the International Trade Administration and
external links are covered by its website disclaimer statement.