Can the Australian health care sector capitalise on China's emerging market?

Principal Director of The George Institute for Global Health, Professor Stephen MacMahon, has spoken to Australia’s ABC 7.30 on what opportunities exist for Australia as China opens up its health care sector to foreign investment.

“There is, I think, a great opportunity for Australia to fill an enormous gap, both an economic gap and a human gap in the Chinese health system,” said Prof MacMahon in the interview.

“The big killers in China are stroke, heart disease and then respiratory disease. They have a huge problem with chronic lung disease, which is not so common here, and that's partly an issue to do with pollution, but also very, very high rates of smoking.”

The China-Australia free trade agreement, signed in 2015, allows Australian operators to run private hospitals and aged care facilities in three Chinese cities and four provinces for the first time. Australia however is only one country trying to capitalise on the opportunity.

“This is not the only free trade agreement with China in the world,” said Prof MacMahon. “There are other countries that have existing free trade agreements like Korea and Singapore, both of which are medical innovation powerhouses. So if we're going to compete in this market with existing players as well as new players, we're going to have to be innovative.”

Watch the full 7.30 segment.