By DALJIT DHESI
KUALA LUMPUR: While aging population in Asia will create emerging challenges, it will at the same time generate a growth cluster of new business opportunities, according to Deloitte.
Its third edition of the Voice of Asia series report revealed that by 2042 there will be more over 65s in Asia than the populations of the Eurozone and North America combined.
This will provide a target-rich environment of business opportunities, focused on a growth cluster targeting megatrends such as rising life expectancies, increasing relative health care costs, and tightening public sector budgets.
The report listed three big accelerators that will drive the industry opportunities in an ageing Asia, with each building on the other: Asia is ageing fast, with a billion people in the region to be aged 65 and over by the middle of this century.
And the money being spent by and on ageing populations will grow even faster than Asia ages, because the impact of new technologies and the on-going management of increasing chronic conditions means health care costs will rise faster than most other costs.
Finally, private sector opportunities will grow even faster still, because stretched government budgets mean the share of health-related costs borne by taxpayers is likely to decrease in the decades ahead.
Malaysia, as a more developed economy than India, Indonesia and the Philippines, is hitting its demographic peak, and is set to ride the crest of a wave that has been building over the past 50 years, it noted.
In 1965, barely one in two Malaysians were of working age. Now that ratio is peaking at close to 70%. Malaysia’s total population is expected to grow by more than 75% from 19 million as recently as a quarter of a century ago to nearly 34 million in 2022, it said.
In addition, the population aged 65 and above is projected to more than triple over that time, from 700,000 to over 2.5 million, to reach 7.5% of the total population.
Deloitte Malaysia risk advisory leader Cheryl Khor noted: “Compared to a number of nations, the impact of ageing on Malaysia’s economic growth is relatively gentle and will not really be felt until the 2050s.
“Our economy will avoid many of the more challenging downsides of population ageing for some time yet, although those challenges will eventually arrive here too.
“Nonetheless, the need for Malaysia to improve geriatric health care options is rising and so is the demand for insurance to accommodate the aged; this will in turn lead to growing aging-related opportunities for the country.”
Meanwhile, Deloitte South-East Asia healthcare sector leader and executive director at Deloitte Risk Advisory Dr Loke Wai Chiong said ageing populations in the region was driving up the demand for healthcare.
“Everything from diagnosis, drugs to devices, will have to evolve together with the shift in demographics. There is an ever-pressing need for a robust healthcare system to cope with the changing needs of patients.
“Despite the challenges of a rapidly ageing population, digital and technology-enabled healthcare solutions can help mitigate care access challenges and enhance the patient experience.
“Healthcare systems in the region should continue to innovate to deliver higher value health care and to rein in rising healthcare costs,” he added.