Male-centric medicine is affecting women’s health
Despite a growing corpus of evidence that insists on physiological differences (beyond the reproductive organs) between the sexes, the male model of medicine is flourishing, as is the tendency to treat women as smaller men. There is also a wealth of research on the genetic and epigenetic variations between men and women.
Points to Ponder:
- Mandatory inclusion: To lessen health disparities, the U.S. NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 required the participation of women and minorities in clinical studies. Equal representation has, nevertheless, been difficult to achieve.
- Medical male role model: Despite expanding knowledge of physiological differences outside of reproductive organs, the male model of medicine has been perpetuated by the propensity to treat women as smaller versions of males. This ignores how particular women’s healthcare requirements are.
- Generic drugs and gender disparity: Gender discrepancies in clinical trials have greater repercussions in India, a big producer and consumer of generic medications. Women’s bodies can react to generic medications differently, and their underrepresentation in clinical trials has led to problems including insufficient dosages.
- Disparities in diagnosis and treatment: Women frequently experience discrepancies in the diagnosis and treatment of medical illnesses. Women are more likely than men to experience depression and anxiety, for instance, but prejudice and stereotypes can impede accurate diagnosis and treatment, harming their general well-being.
- Sex-specific illnesses and research gaps: Research gaps in sex-specific conditions including polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometrial or breast cancer, and pregnancy-related problems are present. The knowledge of these disorders is hampered by inadequate financing and research, which therefore restricts effective healthcare interventions.
- Obstacles to maternal health: Due to pregnant women’s continued underrepresentation in clinical trials and research, little is known about their unique healthcare requirements. Pregnancy and labour problems, this increases the risk of avoidable fatalities.
- Funding disparities: Disparities in funding may prevent adequate funding for research on problems that disproportionately impact women, such as migraine, endometriosis, and anxiety disorders. This reveals a lack of emphasis on and support for research on women’s health.
- Equitable healthcare: Egalitarian Healthcare should take into account women as a separate group, with race, age, and class acting as subcategories. Understanding and effectively meeting women’s healthcare demands calls for equal time, money, and research efforts.
- Intervention in policy: India has progressive laws about women’s health, including the freedom to access abortion. To close the current gaps, however, legislative actions are required to prioritise sex-specific medical research and assure its execution.
- G-20 presidency opportunity: Opportunity presented by India’s G-20 presidency: Now is a good time to draw attention to the problem of gender inequality in clinical trials and healthcare. The Sustainable Development Goals for women’s health can be aligned to further raise awareness and encourage action to reduce these inequalities.