Demand for advanced wound care products has been low in Malaysia, even though the country is one of the main healthcare markets in Southeast Asia. However, the demand is growing lately, thanks to the improving awareness among physicians as well as patients.
A snapshot of the global advanced wound care market
The aging population is one of the major drivers of the advanced wound care markets worldwide. The rate of diabetes mellitus is rapidly increasing on the back of an aging population and lifestyle choices.
It is estimated that about 617 million people are aged 65 or more at present, worldwide. That is more than 8.5% of the world population. By 2050, this number is expected to jump to 1.6 billion.
Diabetic foot problems such as foot ulcers and necrotizing fasciitis in the elderly population are one of the major causes of admission to hospitals, requiring advanced wound care and prolonged dressing.
In 2015, the advanced wound care products accounted for the largest share of the global wound care markets, surpassing surgical would care and traditional would care. It is expected to continue its strong run, supported by the increasing awareness among the public about new, advanced and effective wound care technologies.
In North America – which commands the largest share of this market – advancements have been shored up by the government’s funding of wound care research. The rising rate of diabetic foot, pressure, and venous ulcers has also been a contributing factor. Not surprisingly, most of the leading players are US companies, while the UK, Sweden, Denmark, and Ireland round up the top players in the advanced wound care market.
Trends in advanced wound care
- A number of new categories and sub-categories have forayed into this segment. They include skin harvesting devices, medicinal leeches, and hand-held electronic medical records, which have specific purposes in wound care and management
- The advanced wound care segment has become increasingly innovative. Dressings with unique wound healing features, such as silver-impregnated dressings that absorb exudate and deliver antimicrobial coverage, are allowing healthcare providers to address challenging wound areas. Also making waves are adhesive technology that manages pain and skin tears, and visual diagnostic devices that help monitor chronic wound healing processes more efficiently
- It has become imperative for wound care manufacturers as well as clinicians to provide evidence and supporting documentation on how their products work
Factors driving the growth of the Malaysian advanced wound care market
Malaysia has some catching up to do with bigger markets as well as players in the advanced would care industry. Prospects for the nation’s overall wound care market remain healthy.
In a recent assessment of the demand for advanced wound care products in Malaysia, AcuBiz Consulting has estimated that the market size was below $25 million in 2016. (http://acubiz.com.my/product/advanced-wound-care-markets-opportunities-malaysia/). However, the demand is expected to grow between 2016 and 2021, driven by the increasing demand for products such as alginate, foam, and TCC.
Overall, advanced wound care markets are growing slowly but steadily in Malaysia, driven by certain forces and restricted by some. Let’s look at the factors at play.
- Malaysia has around 3 million diabetic population. The number of diabetic patients is expected to increase during the forecast period. As a highly prevalent complication of the disease, diabetic foot ulcers will require effective wound care management
- A heightened awareness of the benefits of wound care products is encouraging private clinicians and hospitals to develop and diversify their range of wound care products
- Malaysia is already an established medical tourism destination in the Asia Pacific region, with core services being a mainstay and an emerging wellness segment. Malaysia’s medium and long-term growth prospects look promising in the medical tourism segment. As patients from foreign countries seek out affordable treatment in the country, local hospitals will feel compelled to develop a business case for investment in advanced wound care products
- As medical technology has advanced, expectations for better scarring control have increased. There is a growing demand for tissue engineered dressings in the treatment of chronic wounds resulting from accidents/trauma or medical illnesses, surgical wounds and burns
- Budgetary constraints on public hospitals are adding pressure to discharge patients early. Advanced wound dressings that improve healing will allow hospitals to discharge patients sooner
Scope for improvement
Malaysia’s advanced wound care market suffers from two main issues:
- Lack of standard protocols for wound care
- A general lack of awareness about new and emerging wound care products among rural hospitals and clinics
Every hospital and clinic have their own techniques on advanced wound care, which may not subscribe to a clear standard or protocol. This, along with budgetary restrictions, has led to a preference for more affordable basic wound care products. In comparison to North America and other top markets, the take-up of advanced dressings such as silver dressings, moist wound dressing, and biomaterials has been slow.
Also, rural healthcare providers are only now beginning to understand the benefits of advanced wound care products. As they embrace the fact that advanced wound care can boost healing and assist with early discharge, sales of the aforementioned dressings can get a shot in the arm.
It can also solve the existing issue of patients treating their chronic wounds at home. In light of this phenomenon, suppliers and distributors can explore the possibility of developing ease-to-use products that allow patients to care for their wounds at home.
The Malaysian Ministry of Health budget for wound care is less than $5 million per year, which is shared among the many tertiary hospitals in the states and the primary health centers under the ministry. Last year’s cuts to the Health Ministry’s budget only amplifies the problem. Already, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has warned that the budget reduction would adversely affect the quality of care administered to patients.
Adding to the problem is the increasing number of patients. During the first five months in 2016, government health clinics witnessed 8 percent increase in patients compared to the same period in 2015. If government hospitals and clinics cannot afford advanced care products and offer early treatments due to budget constraints, it could contribute to poor healthcare outcomes and an increased number of amputations.