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Femtech Needs to Move Beyond the Uterus in Asia Pacific

06 March 2023 | Opinion

The Asia Pacific femtech market represents approximately 14 per cent of the global business

image credit- shutterstock

image credit- shutterstock

The female technology or femtech industry, which focuses on using technology to advance, monitor, predict and personalise women’s health, is a nascent industry largely focused on reproductive health and menstruation. In 2030, there are expected to be nearly 2 billion women in Asia Pacific, representing 45 -50 per cent of the global women’s population. This will present an enormous commercial opportunity for mainstream healthcare companies to participate, especially in chronic diseases, where the burden is large.

Women in this region still lack health awareness, education, access, and affordability, in addition to being highly stigmatised by social and cultural taboos. For instance, in Singapore and Malaysia, women’s health issues, specifically sexual health, cannot be discussed openly in the presence of male family members. This leads to many unwanted pregnancies, abortions, and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), as there is still a massive knowledge gap in family planning. The taboo attached to menstruation, reproductive health, menopause, and other women’s health needs makes it difficult for women to seek help. Women residing in the rural pockets of Southeast Asian countries are the most vulnerable as they are financially incapable, victims of stigma, and lack access to healthcare services and solutions.

The Asia Pacific femtech market represents approximately 14 per cent of the global business and is largely concentrated in Singapore and growing steadily in India. The number of companies is increasing in Japan and South Korea, and we expect that by 2030, Asia Pacific femtech should represent 25 per cent of the global market in terms of revenues.

In 2022, Fermata tracked 71 femtech companies in Southeast Asia. Singapore continued to be the leading market with 32 companies, followed by Malaysia with 12.

Research predicts that by 2026, the Asia Pacific region will see the world's fastest growth in women's health apps.

This growth will be fuelled by greater awareness and openness about female health topics, changing perceptions about women's health issues, and more capital accessibility for female founders. A key driving force is the penetration of smartphones and the internet in some Asian countries like India and the awareness of their use. All age groups have shown a desire to get advice and care from online forums, healthcare platforms, and experts.

The biggest challenge to the growth of female technology is that it is largely a startup culture driven by female founders who find it extremely hard to raise money on topics related to women’s health because proving the scalability of the solution can be difficult.

The top five growth opportunities for the region are:

  1. The need for screening beyond breast cancer in rural markets.
  2. Women-specific clinical research and care standards for cardiac care and diabetes.
  3. The need for affordable menstrual care solutions.
  4. The need for advanced and affordable fertility solutions.
  5. Uterine health (endometriosis, PCOS) solutions, including awareness and education.

 

Authors-

Reenita Das, Partner, Senior Vice President, Healthcare and Life Sciences & Chandni Mathur, Senior Consultant, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Frost & Sullivan

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