29 Sep 16 Ageing India: Is the healthcare sector prepared?

To quote Gro Harlem Brundtland, the Director-General of the World Health Organization in 2002 – “… the developed countries became rich before they became old, the developing countries will become old before they become rich.”

healthcare sectorThe population in Asia-Pacific has tripled in the last 65 years. Some of these countries are currently experiencing a ‘youth bulge’. Just a few decades remain to benefit from this demographic dividend. The region, home to the world’s six most populous countries (including China and India), is ageing at a faster rate than any other in the world. By 2050, population ageing will be well under way in many countries, according to a report published by UNDP. What took Europe a century, is occurring in Asia-Pacific in just over three decades.

India and China have its similarities – both are developing economies, with large populations.

By 2030, nearly 9% of the India’s population will be aged over 65; and by 2050, this percentage will grow to 14.7%. Compare that to China – more than 40% of its population will be over the age of 60. China has already begun to address this issue. Here are some of the country’s initiatives –

  • Public pensions – 1 out of 3 of the labour force in China are covered; while in India, that ratio is 1 out of 10
  • The country has achieved near universal health insurance coverage, reaching over 95% in urban and rural areas by 2011. In India, estimates vary… According to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, a mere 17% have some form of insurance coverage.
  • China revised its FDI laws in 2012 to allow for up to 100% foreign ownership of hospitals
  • In 2013 the Chinese government set a target of having 8 million aged care beds and 10 million aged care staff by 2020
  • In mid-2013, China began encouraging the development of private aged care facilities and home care services


Taking a leaf out of China’s book, India must prepare for the demographic change before it gets old. The opportunities are immense for the country’s healthcare sector targeted at the elderly population. The need for a range of financial products, patient monitoring equipment, medical devices, digital healthcare technologies, healthcare services… will only grow. This will create huge opportunities for health and life insurers, makers of respiratory and cardiovascular devices, manufacturers of health monitoring devices, home care providers, and day care centres for the elderly.

Shivanthika Murugan

Shivanthika was a research analyst working for ValueNotes. While here, she worked on market intelligence and CI studies for clients in the healthcare, automobile and consumer goods sectors.

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