Hundreds of thousands of Chinese women are struggling with infertility, as the population ages and women continue to delay child birth.
With one figure projecting China’s infertile population will reach 40 million by 2020, U.S. reproductive companies are beginning to eye the underserved market.
Chinese authorities want to boost the birth rate, which, at an estimated 1.6 children per woman in 2017, is similar to Canada’s but below those of the United States and UK. That puts it below the 2.1 rate needed to keep the population steady, according to the CIA World Factbook.
With those goals in mind, the Chinese Medical Doctor Association (CMDA) together with Global Fertility & Genetics Inc. (GFG) hosted a media reception for China’s “One Belt and One Road” initiative focusing on international reproductive services earlier this month in its New York office.
China presents a unique opportunity for U.S. health companies geared towards improving fertility, said Dr. Kevin Doody, chairman of the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology, or SART.
SART has already partnered with CMDA in an initiative to advance the practice standards of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) and related services in China, Doody said at the conference.
The primary organization of professionals dedicated to the practice of ART in the U.S. has also entered into an agreement with Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine to find ways to integrate eastern and western approaches for better infertility care, Doody said.
Another fertility expert at the conference, Dr. Bo Hu, chairman of Ciming Boao International Hospital, spoke about the spoke about the fast-growing trend of international fertility treatment, which is an estimated 20-billion-dollar market, Digital Journal reported.
Other science and business leaders that attended the event included Annie Liu, CEO of Global Fertility & Genetics; Katie Karloff, INVO Bioscience CEO; Li Jing, CEO of U.S.-China marketing investment firm Star Global Group; and Dr. Jack Cohen, who was involved with the first “test tube baby.”
Karloff told Xinxua that their intention is to have GFG and INVO Bioscience partner with an exclusive agreement in Hainan, where a collaborative reproductive healthcare pilot program is being rolled out.
The exclusivity will be for three years initially, with potential for an extension, she said.
“As you know, the China market is huge and very underserved. INVO will provide initial devices free to get started and get some clinical data,” Karloff said.
Karloff said Doody will be training the physicians and embryologists from GFG in New York so that they will be prepared to train physicians and embryologists in Hainan, the southernmost Chinese island.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Emmy-winning TV host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” congratulated Liu of GFG on her event, adding “I love working in China.”
Oz will be visiting China with USANA health sciences from May 27-29 to explore both traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine “to see how they work together,” he said.
“I love working in China,” Dr. Oz said.
As China and the U.S. work to improve infertility treatments, the issue continues to impact largely urban Chinese women in a highly personal way.
(Infertility is perceived to be much less of a problem in rural areas, where people get married much younger.)
To help women struggling with infertility, Phoebe Pan launched a support group on WeChat.
“I know so many Chinese women who are overwhelmed by so-called infertility and sterility problems,” Pan told CNN.