Current Market Trends
Procurement & Tenders
Population: 5.6 million
GDP: US$297 billion
Currency: Singapore Dollar (SGD)
Language: English (Business), Mandarin, Malay, Tamil (Other)
A 2016 report published by The Lancet medical journal places Singapore in the top ranks for global healthcare, along with Iceland and Sweden. Singapore also took top position in progress towards the health-related UN Sustainable Development Goals and in the Global Innovation Index 2017. Singapore has achieved world-class standards in healthcare and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), Singapore’s healthcare system ranks sixth globally and offers the fourth best healthcare infrastructure in the world. It also serves as the healthcare and medical hub of the region and offers Asia’s best healthcare system. Singapore ranked second in the Bloomberg Healthcare Efficiency Index 2016 and is increasingly acknowledged for having achieved excellent healthcare outcomes at modest costs. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked Singapore second in the world for best healthcare outcomes. Among its ASEAN peers, Singapore spends the most annually in healthcare on a per capita basis.
Demand for state of the art medical technologies is also expected to grow as Singapore strengthens its reputation as the region’s healthcare hub, and as a center for healthcare excellence offering first class healthcare delivery systems and facilities to both its resident population and the international patient market.
Singapore serves as a showcase for healthcare delivery and medical technology and is considered the gateway to the regional economies of South East Asia. The three key healthcare strategies Singapore is pursuing are clinical research, improving long-term care and moving towards more sophisticated care.
Singapore recently implemented universal healthcare called MediShield Life, a universal insurance coverage. Under MediShield Life, even people with pre-existing conditions will be covered. The national healthcare plan covers 100% of the population and ensures that all Singaporeans have access to medical care.
U.S. companies who are new to the market and interested in exporting to Singapore may consider appointing a local distributor to represent their company’s product and services. Given the small market size of the island state, most potential distributors would request exclusive rights to sell the product. They will also likely ask for distribution rights for the regional South East Asia countries as Singapore serves as a gateway into the region. U.S. exporters of medical equipment should evaluate the suitability of the distributor based on the company’s contacts in the market, their product range and whether their products complement that of the U.S. firm. As the sales in the local market increases, the U.S. firm can look into setting up an ongoing presence in Singapore much like how some large MNCs have set up regional offices in Singapore. This brings the U.S. firm closer to their customers, demonstrates their commitment to the region and allows for prompt and enhanced customer service.
Current Market Trends
Singapore’s public hospitals and specialty centers engage in clinical research with the many pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical technology companies based in Singapore. Singapore’s goal is to become Asia’s premier healthcare hub via the attraction of foreign patients. There is also an emphasis towards a healthy lifestyle and a focus on preventive care. As the population ages, Singapore will experience what is known as “hyper-aging” within the next twenty years. The demand for geriatric medicine and rehabilitation medicine is expected to rise.
Doctors here are also pushing ethical and professional standards, and it is expected that every major hospital in Singapore will have attained the widely recognized American mark of quality healthcare. Already, the majority of private and public sector hospitals have been accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), the overseas arm of the United States' main hospital accreditation agency.
Singapore represents a good market for the introduction of more advanced health IT systems. Singapore has an overwhelming presence of 3G and 4G services, which make the adoption of advanced mobile health and telehealth technologies less challenging than other markets. Some home-based outpatient mobile health and telehealth initiatives are already in place. Several public hospitals use a transitional healthcare model whereby medical staffs visit patients at home to ensure that these patients adhere to their medicines regimes. This initiative presents a market opportunity for health IT programs to alleviate the strain on healthcare personnel.
Major competitors of the U.S. are medical devices from Germany, and other European economies, Japan and Australia. Local production by multinational corporations and indigenous Singapore companies is primarily for export or contract manufacturing.
Singapore’s healthcare services are comparable to those of other industrialized nations. The plan is to raise health spending to reach US$1.37billion / S $2 billion a year in the next four years. The Singapore government is focused on moving up the value chain by building up services that assist research and healthcare delivery in Singapore and the region. A total of 23 hospitals and six specialty centers, provide a complete spectrum of clinical services from basic health screening to complex quaternary care. The Joint Commission International (JCI) has accredited 23 Singapore hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Medical devices are classified under four risk classes. All medical devices, except Class A devices, must be registered with the Singapore Health Sciences Authority prior to placing them on the Singapore market. Only Class A devices supplied in a non-sterile state are exempted. Classification of medical devices will depend on a series of factors including; how long the device is intended to be in use; whether the device is invasive, implantable, active or if it contains a drug or biologic component. The classification rules are adopted from guidance developed by the Global Harmonization Task Force. More information can be found on: http://www.hsa.gov.sg/content/hsa/en/Health_Products_Regulation/Medical_Devices/Overview.html
Singapore offers universal healthcare coverage with a financing system based on twin philosophies of individual responsibility and affordable healthcare. The subsidized, multi-layered government-operated system has existed for many years. Large government subsidies are available to support patients with acute care needs while private and government administered medical insurance is also available.
Individuals each have a “Medisave” account, which is a national medical savings plan where individuals put aside part of their income to meet their future personal or immediate family’s hospitalization, day surgery or certain outpatient expenses.
There are no barriers to entry as Singapore is an open economy and a firm believer in keeping trade open. There are no customs duties on medical devices. A 7.0% goods and services tax (GST) is imposed on all goods sold and services provided, locally. Imports are subject to GST, but payments are refundable on re-exports.
Procurement & Tenders
Singapore is a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. The U.S.-Singapore FTA provides increased access for U.S. firms to Singapore’s central government procurement. U.S. firms generally find Singapore to be a receptive and open market. The Singapore government procurement system is considered by many American firms to be fair and transparent. Government procurement regulations are contained in Instruction Manual 3, available from the Singapore Ministry of Finance. The Singapore Government also advertises its tenders on its website at www.gebiz.gov.sg
APACMed Asia Pacific Medtech Forum 2018/2019
October 9-11, 2018 / October 8-10, 2019
English language website: https://medtechforum.asia
Description: The theme for this year is “Technology in Healthcare: Empowering Patients; Driving Outcomes.” It is a three-day event that will provide a unique opportunity to network with senior industry leaders, hospital CEOs, regulators, policy makers, clinicians and academics with a common goal of improving patient outcomes across the region.
HIMSS e-Health Summit Singapore 2019 April/May 2019 Location: Singapore
English language website: http://www.himssasiapac.org/
Description: This event is expected to attract the biggest names in Asia’s healthcare and IT sector.
Phar-East Asia’s Pharma & Biotech Festival 2019
March 18-20, 2019
English language website: http://www.terrapinn.com/exhibition/phar-east/
Description: Phar East Asia is the leading industry events for the biopharma community in Asia. The focus is on human health and social work activities, drug discovery, manufacturing, the manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations and the manufacture of chemical and chemical products. This event is the leading industry platform for pharmaceutical firms, biotechnology companies, contract manufacturers, contract research organizations, investors and other pharma stakeholders to come together and assess the latest trends, partnerships, as well as a source for solutions across the pharma value chain in Asia.
Asia Health 2019 / MEDLAB Asia Pacific 2019
March 26-28, 2019
English language website: http://www.medlabasia.com/
Description: Asia Health and MEDLAB Asia Pacific is one of the largest healthcare and laboratory conference and exhibition in Singapore. Held alongside eight continuing medical education (CME) conferences, Asia Health and MEDLAB Asia Pacific exhibition is a good platform to promote and launch the latest diagnostic innovations and services and engage with industry.
April 24-26, 2020
English language website: http://www.idem-singapore.com/
Description: IDEM Singapore is organized by Koelnmesse GmbH, of Cologne, Germany, in conjunction with the Singapore Dental Association, the congress organizer. Into its 11th staging, IDEM is the leading dental trade fair in the Asia-Pacific region. More than 230 exhibitors and over 6,500 visitors from some 56 countries are expected to attend. The show features furnishings and equipment for dental practice/dental laboratory. Instruments and tools for dentists and dental technicians, materials for dental practice use/dental laboratory use, pharmaceuticals, detergents, disinfectants, deodorants, sterilization products and other agents for protections against infection, teeth and veneering materials, restorative, prosthetic and orthodontic accessory parts.
Medical Fair 2020
English language website: http://www.medicalfair-asia.com/
Description: Medical Fair Asia is one of Asia’s leading and most established trade fairs focused on equipment and supplies for hospital, diagnostic, pharmaceutical, medical and rehabilitation sectors. It provides the ideal international platform for some of the industry’s best suppliers to showcase product innovations.
1. Does a U.S. company need to change the packaging and is English labeling acceptable? Does the U.S. company need to translate the labeling to the local language?
English is the language of commerce and business in Singapore. As such, there is no need to change the packaging or labeling as the standard English labeling is acceptable. That said, companies still need to adhere to any other labeling requirements under Singapore regulations.
2. Singapore is part of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), can a U.S. company apply for registration in one ASEAN country and have that apply to all other ASEAN countries?
Registration in one ASEAN market such as Singapore cannot be used for the next and subsequent markets. Separate applications must be made for each country that the U.S. company wishes to enter and have access to.
U.S. Commercial Service Contact Information
Name: Luanne Theseira
Position: Commercial Specialist
Statistics have shown a rise in the incidence of diabetes in Singapore where approximately 8% of the population is diabetic. The Ministry of Health is looking to halt this and will be dedicating resources to combat it. There are currently more than 400,000 diabetics, costing Singapore over $740 million yearly. This is expected to rise to $1.8 billion if the trend is not stopped or slowed. A holistic approach encompassing regular health screenings, lifestyle changes and exercise will be adopted. Opportunities therefore exist for U.S. suppliers of health and wellness products.
In the last five years, the Ministry of Health has allocated a total of $3.36 billion to achieve its mission of delivering affordable healthcare, ensuring good medical outcomes, reducing illness, promoting good health and ensuring that the country is resilient against communicable disease threats and civil emergencies. Four years ago, the government announced a $5.6 billion budget that addresses infrastructure concerns in the short- and long-term as well as
healthcare provision and subsidies for the poor. The three key areas of focus will be healthcare infrastructure, healthcare delivery and managing the associated costs and issues related to an aging population. This budget also includes larger subsidies for surgical implants, the treatment and management of chronic diseases, as well as funding programs to promote healthy lifestyle and active-aging programs. As a result, U.S. exporters of medical devices, preventive and health screening products, and disease management solutions would be able to benefit.
The Singapore government also remains committed to ensuring that the national healthcare system keeps pace with global medical advancements. To keep up with advances in biomedical science and encourage the development of new clinical treatments for Singaporeans, the Ministry of Health, in partnership with A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology & Research) and several other governmental bodies, will invest $53 million in clinical and translational research. Another $10.6 million has been set aside for the development of new clinical services. The aim is to augment Singapore’s medical capabilities in the public healthcare system and position Singapore as the premier regional medical services hub. U.S. exporters who are able to provide cutting-edge technology, laboratory and testing equipment and services for the healthcare and research communities will find Singapore a lucrative market.
The elderly, categorized as those over 65 years, currently represent 10.7% of the total population, higher than all the other ASEAN countries. Within the next twenty years, Singapore will experience what is known as ‘hyper-aging.’ Over a quarter of the population will be 65 years and older by 2030. As such, more facilities for the elderly, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, need to be built. The demand for services such as geriatric medicine and rehabilitation medicine are expected to rise as is demand for homecare services. U.S. firms specializing in elder-care products and services will find a robust and growing market in Singapore.
Healthcare spending (including investment)
... as percent of GDP
... of which spent on investments/ development
Hospitals, Procedures, Healthcare Professionals
Number of hospitals & Specialty Centers
16 (8 public hospitals – 6 acute, 1 Women’s & Children’s)
Number of hospital beds
…available beds per capita (per 000 population)
...of which in general hospitals
...of which in specialized clinics and rehabilitation centers
...of which surgeons
Specialists: 5,338 Public Sector: 3,523 Private: 1,528 Not in Active Practice: 287
2,293 (Specialist dentists: 350)
Life expectancy men/women
Men (80.5 years) / Women (85.1 years)
2.2 per 1000 live-births
Percent of population older than 65
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