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July 2021

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What is the gender healthcare gap?


(NC) We’ve heard of many gaps related to women’s equality, from the gender-pay gap to the childcare gap. But do you know about the gender healthcare gap?

This gap involves the legacy of inequity in the health research process and a lack of inclusion of women in clinical trials.

Women have only been required to be included in clinical trials for over 20 years, meaning there are therapies and medications on the market today that have never been tested on women. Studies have also shown that women’s health research is funded less often than men’s, for shorter terms and for lower funding amounts, with less than eight per cent of national funding supporting women’s health research. This lack of research leads to women’s symptoms being misdiagnosed because the data around women’s unique physiology simply doesn’t exist.

A recent survey of Canadian adults by Women’s Health Collective Canada highlights just how much we don’t know about over half of our population’s health. For example, 89 per cent of respondents don’t know that women are more likely than men to experience an adverse reaction to prescription medications, and only 20 per cent know that heart disease kills more women than men each year. Meanwhile, 83 per cent don’t know that about a third of women suffer from periods severe enough to interfere with daily activities.

Fortunately, organizations like the Women’s Health Collective Canada are working to remedy this. Together with leading women’s health foundations, the organization is spreading awareness about the gender healthcare gap and raising funds to tackle it.

Funding allocated to medical research that addresses the unique needs of women, amplifying the voices of women researchers and broadening the scope and reach of world-class women’s health programs, are tactics that will help create higher standards of care across the country. These actions are helping to right the course on women’s health research here in Canada and beyond.


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