Governments, health officials and companies operating in the health sector are facing a series of policy-related opportunities and risks in Southeast Asia. Decisions they make will influence the state of health care across the region and hopefully create the foundation for continued progress. There are four policy areas that require attention: investment, speed, innovation and choices.


Patients want access to innovative medicines and treatments. Thanks to treatment breakthroughs and wider health care access, people across Southeast Asia are living longer than ever before. But populations urgently need new treatments and cures for non-communicable conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer that are now the leading cause of death in the region. Left unchecked, unmet medical needs could have dire consequences for our region – from premature death to lower productivity and crippling health care costs.

Countries in the region can increase investments in early stage research and improve protections for data generated through clinical trials, ultimately expanding patient access.

Singapore has adopted more effective patent protection and enforcement policies and has seen higher levels of clinical research as a result. For example, in 2017, Singapore conducted an average of 33.7 new clinical trials per capita and its pharmaceutical industry is expected to grow by 7% over the next five years.

Government policies around intellectual property and patents in some countries are limiting or undermining incentives to invest in new treatments and cures for patients suffering from cancer and other diseases.