Step 2 Part 2 Fact Sheet 18: inequality in health care

Inequality in Healthcare

Until 1990, it was common for health studies to be carried out almost exclusively on men. The result is that doctors and scientists know much less about women’s bodies, women’s illnesses and women’s reactions to drugs than about men’s health issues. The reason for the focus on men is that it is difficult to include pregnant women in a trial. Another reason that is often provided is that women have fluctuating hormone levels. “It is much cheaper to study one sex,” is a comment given by a male scientist (Angela Saini: Inferior. 2017, p. 58). The tendency to focus on males, researchers now realise, may have harmed women’s health. Heart attacks for instance, show themselves differently in women than in men. Therefore they are often not easily recognised, and women die or suffer more than men would. 

In the Netherlands, Hella de Jonge, a female documentary maker and expert suffering from heart failure herself, started the Female Heart Foundation. Watch the documentary (English subtitled):

Starting in 2016, the USA and EU implemented laws that require equal inclusion of women in medical research and trials.