(Yicai Global) Jan. 11 -- China and France's eldercare industries can learn from each other, Olivier Veran, a member of the French parliament and presidential advisor for healthcare, told Yicai Global in an interview.
"I think [we] can share our experience with China in this area. After all, we share the same goals," he said during French President Emmanuel Macron's China visit. "France has a group of professional companies and research institutes working on the issue of population aging, and the country has gained some expertise and experience.
"France started studies on how to cope with an aging population 20 years ago, and has made more achievements than China in this area," he added.
"Compared with France, it is a relatively new problem in China, but China has more elderly people," he continued. "From the data that I found, the Chinese elderly population is about 10 times bigger than France's."
The two governments signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday to execute a bilateral consensus on eldercare market cooperation. The pair plans to set up a 'silver economy' committee to ramp up policy and expert exchanges and encourage Chinese and French firms to make investments related to the scheme.
The move will see more French eldercare management models and brands come to China. "[Managers from] Cance and Europea Sante came to China this week," Veran said, adding that DomusVi and Colisee are also optimistic about the market. Orpea, a European market leader, enter China as early as 2013 and opened the country's first foreign nursing homes in Shanghai and Nanjing shortly after.
As well as running eldercare facilities, these firms have innovated services to minimize the cost of nursing and medical treatment by allowing old people to receive them at home, he explained.
Veran also talked of his interest in traditional Chinese medicine, saying disease prevention is a big challenge in France, and avoiding chronic diseases, smoking-induced illnesses and obesity is a high priority. He believes TCM can be seen as a preventative therapy.
The silver economy can create new jobs and combine eldercare with the latest technology. Some nursing homes in France already use robotic companions to solve a lack of manpower.
"Elderly people need workers to look after them," Veran said. "Service innovations can also create new job opportunities. High-tech wards have emerged in France and sector development will bring about even more prospects."