By Senator Lena C. Taylor
Taylor Welcomes Biden’s Work on Women’s Research and Funding
We talk a good game about the need to improve gender-based health outcomes. Trotting out themed months, ribbons and pins, we tell anyone that will listen, how much we value women. However, the proof is in the funding. In other words, put up or shut up. When it comes to the under-representation or exclusion, of women in health research and disparate funding, we are basically silent.
Women comprise 52% of the U.S. population. We are the holders of medial information for our families, decision-makers, and nearly half of our workforce. However, a cursory review of illnesses across the board yields a bias and marginalization that is difficult to understand. Conditions that affect women more than men garner less funding.
According to Women’s Health Access Matters (WHAM), women have been an understudied species for years. Project Rand previously provided the following example: Cardiovascular disease, is the number one killer of women in the United States, but only about a third of participants in clinical trials for new treatments for cardiovascular disease are female. Almost two-thirds of the 6.2 million people suffering with Alzheimer’s are women, but in most animal studies of the disease, researchers haven’t reported the sex of the animal they’re studying.
In 1993, the National Institute of Health (NIH) mandated that women and minorities be included in any government-funded health research. However, it wasn’t until 2016 that female mice were mandated by NIH to be included in clinical research. Is it just me, or did you ever think that the gender of test mice would be an issue?
Even in accounting for sexism, a lack of representation in medical and research fields and the deficiency of substantial research dollars is still shocking. Without it we can’t effectively diagnose, prevent, treat or cure medical conditions that impact women differently.
This doesn’t just hurt the women and girls we love, it hurts our nation. This issue has economic consequences in the form of increased medical bills, chronic care needs, and unnecessary fatalities. The public often help shoulder these expenses and losses.
It is with this understanding that I applaud President Joe Biden for establishing a new White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research. Led by First Lady Jill Biden and the White House Gender Policy Council, the Initiative will galvanize the Federal government as well as the private and philanthropic sectors to spur innovation, unleash transformative investment to close research gaps, and improve women’s health.
The President has directed his Administration to establish an Initiative consisting of executive departments and agencies across the Federal government, deliver concrete recommendations to advance women’s health research, take a targeted, high-impact approach, and engage the scientific, private sector, and philanthropic communities.
The Initiative will explore new public-private partnerships and engage private and philanthropic leaders to drive innovation and ensure the combined power of public, private, and philanthropic sectors advances research on women’s health. It is a welcome focus and I look forward to the outcomes!