We must fight gender inequality in healthcare research | Letter

Less is known about women’s health than men’s – that’s because research on the former is underfunded, says Silvia Hummel

Jessica Nordell raises several important issues facing women and people from ethnic minorities in accessing quality healthcare (The bias that blinds: why some people get dangerously different medical care, The long read, 21 September). Another important factor is that less is known about women’s health than men’s. A recent analysis of the US National Institutes of Health expenditure (by far the largest funder of health research in the world) concluded that the “NIH applies a disproportionate share of its resources to diseases that affect primarily men, at the expense of those that primarily affect women”. The biggest losers? ME/chronic fatigue syndrome and migraine, funded respectively at 6% and 7% commensurate with the disease burden on patients.

Unless metrics relating to discrepancies between the treatment of men and women in all aspects of healthcare are monitored, and those responsible held to account, women will continue to suffer unnecessarily poor health.
Silvia Hummel
Keswick, Cumbria

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