Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/08/2014 -- The Belarusian medical device market is small and under-developed. Key metrics, such as health expenditure per capita and medical device spending, are the lowest in Europe. An ailing economy and a political regime resistant to market modernisation, and therefore unattractive to investors, are both dominating factors which limit the development of the healthcare sector and dampen demand.
The current president of Belarus is Alexander Lukashenko, who was elected to the post in 1994 and is now serving his fourth term. The most recent elections to the House of Representatives were held in September 2012. Following a boycott of the elections by the two strongest opposition parties - United Civic and the BPF - the parliament is again filled with supporters of President Lushenko as it has been since 2004. Belarus has been dubbed as "the last dictatorship in Europe" and is notable for its President being on a list of EU sanctions, which includes travelling to the EU, due to alleged human rights abuses.
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According to Business Monitor International (BMI), Belarusian GDP will increase by just 1.3% in real terms to US$85.3bn in 2013. GDP per capita of US$8,985 in 2013 is one of the lowest in Europe. BMI forecasts weak GDP growth over the next few years, with the economy expected to grow by an average 1.1% per annum over the 2014-2018 period. GDP is expected to reach US$185.6bn by 2018, equal to US $19,859 per capita.
The healthcare system in Belarus is little changed from the Soviet era. It is funded through general taxation. In theory, the whole population, other than temporary residents, is entitled to free healthcare, which covers a wide range of services. Pharmaceuticals prescribed for outpatients and dentistry & optician costs require either full or partial payment from patients.
The private healthcare sector in Belarus is very small compared with the public sector, representing only 7% of activity. Privatisation has been slow in recent years, as the government wishes to provide free healthcare for the whole population. Despite state guarantees, some doctors still charge patients for medical supplies and pharmaceuticals that they should not have to pay for, in order to supplement their incomes.
In 2013, the Belarusian market for medical equipment and supplies is estimated at US$280.9mn, or just under US$30 per capita. In per capita terms, the market is similar to Bulgaria or Mexico. The broad ranging other medical devices category is expected to account for 41.3% of the overall market in 2013, ahead of diagnostic imaging products with a 20.5% share.
Around 79% of the medical device market is supplied by imports. Western manufacturers account for the majority, although ex-Soviet suppliers still retain some share in niche areas. Locally produced devices are distributed primarily in Belarus; therefore, exports are low.
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