By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Taipei – Taiwan has began transforming itself into a more elderly-friendly country as it steps up the game on the production of modern medical and healthcare equipment, a strategy that the East Asian state is eager to share to its neighboring countries like the Philippines.
Sponsored by the Bureau of Foreign Trade of Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and organized by Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), MEDICARE (Taiwan International Medical & Healthcare Exhibition) and the 10th SenCARE (Taiwan Int’l Senior Lifestyle and Health Care Show) are under way side-by-side at the Taipei World Trade Center and will continue until June 18.
Forming a comprehensive medical and senior care procurement platform, the joint exhibition is Taiwan’s largest professional procurement platforms for the medical devices and nursing care industry.
The event came at a time when the government of Taiwan just recently launched its ‘Long-term Care 2.0’, a long-term care system that should meet the needs of senior citizens and the mentally and physically challenged.
This, as Taiwan’s population become an “aged society” by 2018 when 14.5 percent of its population turns 65 and over. By 2026, Taiwan will become a “super-aged society” when 20.6 percent of its entire population started to age above 60.
These figures “present a crisis but also business opportunity for manufacturers,” said Da-Wei Hsu, Bureau of Foreign Trade Deputy Director General of Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, at the opening of MEDICARE and SenCARE here.
“We hope to assist elderly for having aged-friendly environment,” Wei Hsu said. “At the same time, we will go to ASEAN countries to promote our medical devices.”
TAITRA Executive Vice President Hsi-Mong Wang said that in response to Taiwan government’s “New Southbound Policy,” his agency has also started leading various supplier groups from Taiwan to visit countries in Southeast Asia to participate in marketing campaigns.
In particular, he said that “over the years, we’ve seen how hard the government and private sector have worked” to develop the medical devices sector.
According to him, Taiwan’s export numbers on medical devices sector alone is “impressive” and will continue to rise.
In previous reports here, it has been announced that Taiwanese government will start investing as much as NT$2 billion (US$ 6.53 million) for the development of the medical equipment industry alone.
According to Lo Ta-Sheng, as cited in news reports, the move will support the escalating aging population in Taiwan as well as globally.
Lo Ta-Sheng is the deputy director-general of the Department of Industrial Technology of the MOEA.
In 2016, the medical equipment market business in Taiwan alone amounted to NT$144 billion (US$4.76 billion)
For this year’s MEDICARE TAIWAN and SenCARE, more than 400 exhibitors using 848 booths are present to showcase a variety of medical equipment, diagnostic equipment, assistive devices, wearable devices, single-use item, rehabilitation equipment, health care products, and care services.
Over the years, the Philippines has become one of the top 10 participants of the highly attended exhibition.
Joseph Wang, Manager at Mackay Memorial Hospital BioMedical Development Center, said in an interview here that the company is open to have partnerships in the Philippines for potential technology transfers or the joint development of other medical innovations.
Considered as one of the biggest medical centers in Taiwan, Mackay Memorial offers innovative medical devices, technology transfers, and provides incubation requirements to healthcare startups.
“We would like to do (partnership with foreign countries and companies),” Wang said.
“We are looking forward to (more) cooperation or (providing) incubation requirement,” he added.
As of now, there are 91 companies under the incubation program of Mackay with survival rate of 95 percent.
Apex Health Care Manufacturing Inc., a manufacturer and global exporter of advance medical and disability equipment, is likewise planning to sell its products to Southeast Asian markets like the Philippines.
Apex Healthcare Marketing Manager Renaus-Kuo said the company is now looking for distributors in Southeast Asia after having been able to establish strong foothold in Europe, United States, and other areas in the world.
“We have a marketing team in Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia… We see a lot or potential in Southeast Asia. This should be our next potential market,” Kuo said in a separate interview.
Wu Lung Chen of Green May Industrial — manufacturer of motorized beds, massage beds, motorized nursing beds with movable side rails, tray table, motorized mattress for easy use; and reusable carrier designed, made-to-order beds — also has the same sentiment about the Philippines. As of now, the company exports its products to Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and other countries.
“So far, from the Philippines, no company yet has approached us but we would like to have buyers from the Philippines,” Chen said in an interview.
For this year’s MEDICARE and SenCARE expo, a significant number of foreign buyers from countries like United Kingdom, China, United States, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia are also registered to attend the show.
It aims to attract over 70,000 visits to attend this joint event.
Asiatic Fiber Corp. Project Manager Andy Chen said his company is always “90 percent successful” upon joining the annual expo.