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Equity In Women's Health

Wednesday the 8th of March 2023, is a day to celebrate all women worldwide. International Women's day has been celebrated since 1910 and continues to be commemorated yearly to create a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. Each year there is a different theme spotlighted to spread awareness on the areas women still struggle with in today's world.

This year's theme is 'Innovation and technology for gender equality' and is about embracing equity! This got us thinking about the inequity in the medical and health sectors, particularly clinical trials.

Equity For Women In Relation To Health Sectors

Historically women have struggled to gain support surrounding their health, and their concerns are often brushed off as typical 'women hood'. However, this isn't the case; women's concerns are valid, and lack of research and trial inclusions are letting them down.

Studies have shown that women are majorly unrepresented in clinical trials resulting in inequity. This inequity can lead to several adverse health impacts, including confusion, dismissal, inability to diagnose, incorrect prescriptions, and numerous other problems and potentially damaging health advice.

Women and Men are impacted by treatments, medications, and health advice differently. Studies have found that women have experienced adverse side effects to medications at higher rates. This is another reason clinical trials must include equal amounts of individuals with differences to identify and adhere to impacts correctly.

'Women have been excluded from medical research for a very long time, and that problem creates a lot of questions that there are no answers for' -Phil Hayes-St Clair, Co-Founder and CEO Drop Bio Health

In a 2019 Berkley Ted Talk, Heather Bowerman discussed gender inequality in health. She shared the key reasons there is not as much innovation in women's health as in men's. They were as follows

  1. Underfunding For Women's Health Research
  2. Long Pre-Existing & Continued Stigma
  3. Limited Understanding Of Womens Health Relative To The Rest Of Medicine
  4. Exclusion From Clinical Trials

Heather further shared why she thinks these roadblocks exist.

1. Researchers tend to avoid including females due to fear of reproductive cycles and hormone fluctuations confounding results.

2. Clinical trials often fail to analyse and report results by sex, impacting their ability to test the safety and efficacy of their discoveries.

Watch The Full Ted Talk | Heather Bowerman

How To Move Forward

Knowing what we know now from the above information, what can we all do the help overcome these barriers?

1. Join Clinical Trials

Evidence comes from clinical trials, which passionate and experienced researchers hold. Great studies cannot occur without significant participation. If you, your partner, or anyone you know wants to help make a real difference, joining clinical trials is the best way.

2. Join Health Match

Health match is an Australian business with a global reach which connects you to clinical trials and allows you to enrol. Joining will allow you to scroll and search various clinical trials and select which you think you'd make a difference in.

3. Promote Transparency

Clinical trials and research need to be transparent on how their results were concluded and which demographic the trials were held on.

4. Adjust Research Requirements

Research plans must include adequate numbers of women. Where journals can encourage the publication of sex-specific results

5. Medical Education

Understanding health differences is crucial to move forward and valuable to all who want to understand the impact of different conditions and medical advice.

The Bottom Line

Since medical history began, women have been dismissed due to their biology. More often than not, our symptoms and health issues are blamed on our hormones and uterus; however, the real problem lies in the lack of women's health research and inclusion in studies and clinical trials. Men's and Women's bodies react differently to health conditions, medications, and treatments. Therefore they shouldn't be treated or prescribed the exact solutions.

Women are majorly unrepresented in clinical trials resulting in inequity, and it's time to change this. Join us and make a difference this International Women's Day by spreading awareness, showing support, or even going the extra mile and joining clinical trials.

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