Mother’s Day marked the start of Women’s Health Week, a time when many highlight the importance of women’s health. Despite this, the funding behind our country’s leading medical research institutions often fails to prioritize women’s health concerns. In 1993, Congress required the NIH to include women and minorities in clinical trial participants. However, women’s biological differences from men were not fully recognized until recently when the NIH implemented a policy mandating gender as a basic variable in research. Despite these measures, a funding gap persists in diseases and conditions affecting women’s health.
A report by Women’s Health Access Matters (WHAM) highlights the prevalence of autoimmune diseases, heart attack deaths, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression among women compared to men. These diseases and conditions affect women differently and require more funding for research. Yet, only a small portion of the NIH’s budget is allocated to studies focused on women’s health concerns. The WHAM report shows that funding disparities disproportionately affect diseases that predominantly affect women. These inequalities have serious economic consequences as well.
The NIH must focus its funding on the burden of disease, including diseases affecting women. Such investments yield greater returns for society. The time has come for the NIH to prioritize women’s health concerns in medical research. We must do this because millions of lives depend on it. HealthyWomen is committed to educating women to make informed health choices, and as such, we advocate for fair funding of medical research.