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Challenges in Trial Treatment and Access for Women with Chronic Illnesses

Beyond the data gap for pregnancy, what other specific challenges do women with chronic illnesses face when it comes to accessing appropriate treatment and participating in clinical trials?

So indeed, women with chronic illnesses, face specific challenges when it comes to accessing appropriate treatment. And actually, it starts with having relevant information and data from clinical trials. So first of all, to be clear, women’s health includes reproductive health, but also covers general conditions that may affect women differently, or disproportionately, like higher prevalence, higher disease burden for women. And I’m just going to give you a couple of examples.

In rheumatic diseases for example, research show that women can experience longer delays in diagnosis, greater pain, anxiety, stress, and can as a result be less active. The same way in psoriatic diseases, which is a disease that affects both skin and joints, women experience a greater feeling of stigmatization are more likely to suffer from stress loneliness than men. And maybe another example we can think about is one of three women will suffer from fragility fracture due to osteoporosis during her lifetime. And despite all that, health challenges for women are still consistently overlooked with studies that ignore the contribution of gender differences in significant condition. So as a result, treatment guidelines, at least at the moment do not recognize gender as a reason to consider different approaches to their care. And policies and frameworks need to ensure they reflect an equality-based approach to the care of women.

Actually, health systems that take account, gender differences in their public health strategies are more likely to be successful and have a greater societal impact. We know that now. Right? So, most women with chronic illnesses are often diagnosed during the height of their careers and their reproductive years. And then they will face specific challenges. One of them could be the desire to continue working, but sometimes building a family as well when managing their disease. And it is critical to improve the standard of care for these women. So, they don’t have to make tradeoffs between controlling their disease or planning their family and daily living the life they choose.