Current Market Trends
Procurement & Tenders
Capital: Phnom Penh Population: 16.2 Million (2017 estimate)
GDP: 23.7 Billion (2018 forecast)
Currency: Khmer Riels
The Cambodian healthcare market is comprised of a wide variety and range of providers, including public health facilities, pharmacies, private hospitals, and medical professional services. The latter typically operates from their own facilities or travels directly to patients’ homes. Qualified private providers and pharmacies are mostly available in urban areas. Two-thirds of public health staff work separately in some private capacity. In addition, a number of NGO-run health facilities and charitable hospitals provide services. As of June 2018, there were 2,516 registered pharmacies, 405 drug import/export companies and branches, and 19 medical manufacturing institutions in Cambodia. Apart from formal healthcare services, informal healthcare providers are common throughout Cambodia; these include vendors selling drugs from shops or markets, traditional birth attendants, as well as traditional healers.
The public sector plays a lead role in promotion and prevention activities for essential reproductive, maternal, neonatal and pediatric health, and major communicable diseases control. However, private practitioners remain popular for curative care. According to the 2014 Cambodian Demographic and Health Survey, only 21.9% of sick or injured patients sought care first at public sector facilities, while 67.1% did so from private health providers. Within the private sector, private pharmacies were most often visited for treatment in urban areas (60%), and private clinics were the most common source in rural areas (23.5%). Most high income and some middle-income people seek medical treatment abroad for complex or emergency cases, primarily in Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore.
The Cambodian government is increasing spending on healthcare. Government expenditure in the healthcare sector increased 16% in 2018, compared to 2017. The primary reason for this has been the overall increase of the Cambodian government budget.
Cambodia allows 100% foreign ownership of businesses, allowing market entrants the ability to set up their own companies locally. However, many U.S. companies have found it advantageous to work with partners (agents or distributors) who have strong local experience and networks, as well as knowledge of the local market, rules, and regulations. A reputable local partner can be key to maintaining good relationships with local customers whose procurement decisions are influenced mostly by trust.
The Ministry of Health is the single largest purchaser of drugs, medical supplies, and medical equipment in the country; however, the proportion of healthcare services provided by the private sector exceeds that of public institutions. These services range from consulting to treatment. Consistent with Cambodia’s rapidly growing economy and demand for medical services, a number of new private hospitals and clinics have opened throughout the country in the past few years, and more are expected in the future. These private hospitals are mostly built by private local/international doctors, as well as international franchises from Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Japan.
The dental market is gaining increased interest from medical tourists from developed countries such as Japan, Australia, and the Middle East. Approximately 20 dental clinics in Phnom Penh are operating in accordance with international standards, appropriate ISO certification, and employ western-trained dentists.
There has been tremendous progress in pharmaceutical products in Cambodia with an annual growth of approximately 10%. Private pharmacies are first visited for treatment by 41% of ill and injured patients in urban areas. Local major pharmaceutical importers are eager to import U.S.-made products, and Cambodian consumers are keen to receive high-quality treatment offered by American medical products.
Import of Medicines
Annual % Growth
Unit: USD thousands
Data Source: Ministry of Economy and Finance
There is a rising demand for health insurance by Cambodia’s growing middle class. Poorer populations are increasingly targeted by government and nongovernmental organization healthcare insurance, and wealthier populations purchase policies from international insurance companies. The middle class, by contrast, has relatively few options for reliable insurance.
Over the last decade, the Cambodian population has become more knowledgeable about the importance of healthcare and health supplements, and nutrition products are becoming more popular. In 2017, there were 1,156 health supplements registered in the Cambodian market.
The main competitors of U.S. medical device companies are from Japan and European countries, primarily Germany. Consumable healthcare products from China are also very competitive in the market due to their competitive prices.
Companies from Australia, New Zealand, UK, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, South Korea, and Japan also market health supplements in Cambodia.
Regional pharmaceutical products from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, and India are very competitive in targeting the lower end of the market.
Medical devices with significant sales potential in Cambodia include diagnostic devices and imaging equipment such as ultrasound machines, X-ray machines, and CT scanners.
The demand for supplement products has increased in the last several years, particularly in Phnom Penh and the larger provincial towns in Cambodia. Two major U.S. supplement brands that are prominent in the Cambodian market are Unicity and Herbalife.
The relative availability of options in health and life insurance in Cambodia is very limited. With a growing middle class, there is increasing demand for quality insurance products. In 2017, the insurance sector’s premium income was US$142.9 million, up 26% compared to 2016. Of those figures, life insurance accounted for US$67.5 million in 2017 – an increase by 56% from 2016. There are currently 11 general insurance companies and 7 life insurance firms in Cambodia.
Imported medicines and medical products must be registered at the Ministry of Health for laboratory testing.
Medical devices are divided into four categories according to their levels of risk: low, fairly low, fairly high, and high. The minimum required documents for registration include an application form, GMP or ISO certificates, a free sale certificate, a letter of authorization, and the product’s manual. Registration of the latter three categories also requires registration certificates from the country of export, an analysis report from the manufacturer, and technical documents. The product registration process should normally take three to six months; however, it might take up to 10 months to one year depending on the Ministry of Health’s product registration workload. The registration certificate is valid for three years from the date of issuance. The company must re-apply for a new registration certificate six months before the expiration of the previous certificate. All imported pharmaceutical products are required to have at least 18 months validity before the expiry date.
There are no government controls or reimbursement systems for drugs in Cambodia.
There are no specific barriers for foreign firms to import medical products into Cambodia. Three types of pharmaceutical products are restricted in Cambodia: narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, and precursors. Medical importers need to send their products to the Ministry of Health for testing to determine if they fall under any specific restrictions.
There is an annual health fair in Cambodia that takes place in September. The health fair involves companies that represent pharmaceutical products, medical equipment and devices, hospital services, and dental care.
In 2018, the event will take place in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, from September 5-7.
1. How long does registration of medical products take in Cambodia?
On average, the products take between 6-12 months depending on the level of complexity, bureaucracies, and relationships. Most local companies are willing to assist with registering products once you partner with them. In addition, there are also agencies to deal with registrations on a fee-based service. For more information on local professional services, please go to: https://www.export.gov/article?id=Cambodia-Local-Professional-Services
2. What are the rates of custom duties for medical products in Cambodia?
Various medical products have different custom duties ranging from 0-35%. More information can be found at http://www.customs.gov.kh/publication-and-resources/customs-tariff-of-cambodia-2017/
3. What is the practical market entry strategy would you recommend?
Working with a local partner, such as an agent or distributor, has been an effective way to reach Cambodian consumers for many market entrants. A local partner can facilitate and expedite market entry through market knowledge and established networks. In Cambodia, personal relationships can be the key to successful business transactions.
Healthcare spending (including investment)
... as percent of GDP
Hospitals, Procedures, Healthcare Professionals UN:
Number of hospitals
33 National/Provincial Hospitals (2016)
Number of hospital beds
... available beds per capita
Number of surgical procedures
0.17/1000 population (2013)
476 Dentists, Dental Assistants, and Dental Nurses (2016)
16,204,486 (July 2017 estimate)
Life expectancy men/women
62.4 years old/ 67.5 years old (2017 estimate)
47 deaths/1,000 live births (2017)
Percent of population older than 65
7.6/1000 (2016 est.)
…caused by Communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions
…caused by Cardiovascular diseases
U.S. Commercial Service Contact Information
Name: SOKKEA HOY
Position: Commercial Specialist
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