Other factors include a low diagnosed rate of diabetes in Thailand.
This is most common in rural provinces where villagers self-diagnose diabetes by observing the presence and behavior of ants' surrounding the lavatory, which might be too late for the patient as the disease is likely to have reached chronic stage.
Religious influence from Buddhism also plays an integral role in Thailand's rise in diabetes as Buddhist teachings consider illness as part of the natural human lifecycle; therefore continuous monitoring and prevention from further deterioration of diseases is perceived as unnecessary.
Frost & Sullivan latest research reveals that Thailand's diabetes prevalence rate is reaching near double digits at 9.6 percent with incidence rates of 4.8 percent in 2009. Jennifer Lau, Industry Analyst, Frost & Sullivan commented that self-monitoring blood glucose (SMBG) and strips devices are paramount to the management of diabetes in Thailand.
"Thailand's public health service has become instrumental in driving the adoption of SMBG devices. Under the '30-Baht Health Reform', more patients are now able to seek treatment and better blood glucose management" comments Lau.
In 2007, Thailand's total market size for SMBG devices and strips was only valued at USD 15million. However, with the awareness campaign launched over the last few years by Thai authorities, the market has achieved revenues up to USD 45million in 2009, recording more than a 60 percent increase over the period of 2 years.
The SMBG devices market consumption is divided into two segments - retail and hospitals. Currently, hospital users are consuming only strips with 49 percent of the revenue contributed by this segment group. Hospitals need not purchase the device (glucose meters) as these are mostly given without charge when hospitals purchase strips in bulk. On the other hand, direct retail to patients generated 51% of the revenue for both strips and meters SMBG devices in 2009.
"In order for change in adoption patterns to emerge, the private and public sectors must work together to implement change" states Lau.
The biggest driver for the adoption of SMBG devices in the market is the continuous education given by suppliers to diabetes nurses, allowing these nurses to be more proactive in educating their patients and the public, thereby increasing their awareness about diabetes. The SMBG manufacturers are also directly educating the patients on the importance of continuous monitoring of blood glucose and this has added to the growth of the industry in Thailand.
The Thai government has also ramped up their awareness campaign by offering frequent health screening for diabetes at local community medical institutions. The government has also established initiatives to reach out to rural provinces by actively participating with the rest of the world in recognizing 12th November 2009 as 'World Diabetes Day' and conducting additional screenings and educational activities about diabetes at rural medical centers.
While most campaigns are directly related to diabetes, government campaigns such as "Khon Thai Rai Pung" indirectly impacts the industry by raising awareness amongst the population of the dangers of obesity leading to diabetes. This campaign prompts citizens to participate in health screening, thus further boosts the diagnosed rate, which in turn, will drive the growth of the SMBG market.
With proper management and detection of new diabetes cases per year, Frost & Sullivan's research indicates that the SMBG devices market in Thailand will soon reach USD 141million in revenue by 2016 with compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.5 percent from 2009 - 2016.
"Diabetes is a lifestyle disease that is not easily treated, but if managed properly, patients can greatly improve their quality of life even when inflicted with the disease. However, it starts with constant monitoring" concludes Lau.
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