Healthcare in the Emerging Markets: A New Frontier for Economic Growth

By Thornton, Gail S. | Seton Hall Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Healthcare in the Emerging Markets: A New Frontier for Economic Growth


Thornton, Gail S., Seton Hall Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations


With a staggering 80 percent of the world's population residing in emerging markets, these regions are surfacing as the world's new economic powerhouse. The emerging markets are a group of geographies ranging from Asia Pacific and China to Latin America and Brazil to Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, including Turkey and India. Unfortunately, virtually all emerging markets are facing serious health challenges; unless addressed, these nations may be forever "emerging" - stymied by poor health infrastructure and an unhealthy population. For example:

* South Africa is home to 0.7 percent of the world's population yet accounts for approximately 30 percent of the ?G? and tuberculosis co-infection.1

* Twenty-eight million children annually worldwide do not receive basic vaccines2 and lack of access to contraceptives represents an enormous women's health issue.

* Increased life expectancy and changing lifestyles have led to high rates of modern chronic diseases - diabetes, cancer, hypertension and respiratory disease - traditionally associated with the developed world: 75 percent of the worldwide diabetic population lives in emerging markets3 and it is projected that the incidence of cardiovascular disease in China will increase more than 50 percent by 2030.4

Despite these health challenges, emerging markets are expected to drive the world's economic growth and provide robust opportunities for healthcare companies due to new economic prosperity, increased healthcare spending and fragmented competition in many of these regions. For instance, as the middle class and wealthy populations grow, they will spend more on private healthcare and governments will need to increase public healthcare systems to better meet the demands of the people. Countries such as China, India, Brazil, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, and Mexico should see per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) increases of about 6.9 percent annually over the next 10 years, with history proving there is a direct correlation between a nation's GDP growth and healthcare spending.5 In addition, different demographic trends (e.g., China's population is aging while India's is growing) are predicted to drive healthcare spending in emerging markets, with key regions accounting for nearly 90 percent of the pharmaceutical industry growth through 2015 - China will become the second-largest consumer of pharmaceuticals and the market in India is on track to nearly triple in size by 2020. …

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