The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family여성가족부 said Friday it would strengthen women’s participation in government-funded clinical trials for developing new drugs, to ensure “balanced health between sexes.”
The ministry stated that despite the critical element of proving safety and effectiveness of medical products through clinical trials, female participation in them remained starkly lower than that of males.
According to a 2016 study, out of the 28 state-financed clinical trials involving 630 people recorded in 2014, only 43 women took part in three tests.
The study pointed out that studies on cerebrovascular diseases, a leading cause of women’s death, had a female participation rate of 31 percent while male participation stood at 69 percent, indicating a 38 percent gap.
Based on study findings, the ministry will call for health-related agencies to consider gender equality in approving medical products. The six affected agencies include the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
The six ministries must submit plans for reform to the gender equality ministry by Sept. 18 and follow-up reports on their actual performance a year later.
The ministry said it would provide more information for medical professionals such as doctors, pharmacists, and nurses, regarding the “gender gap in medical products,” by “gender medicine” programs.
The ministry cited the spray of pesticides as an example. “Despite the frequent uses of pesticides by Korean farmers, male farmers have been viewed as the main players, and female farmers as helpers, which led to the difference in wearing protective clothing,” it said. The ministry noted that 33.7 percent of men always wore protective clothing while 16.4 percent did the same.
To rectify the problem, the ministry will develop protective clothing fitted to both men and women and provide guidelines for supplying protective garments. It will also strengthen education programs for female farmers regarding the awareness, types, and selection criteria for wearing protective clothing, it said.
“We expect the reform plans will better protect the health of women, as they should be justly respected as human beings, and we hope that female farmers, as independent farmers, will gain protection from the risks of pesticides,” spokeswoman Park Nan-sook said.
“The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family will continue to reduce the gender inequality in various government policies and work towards promoting gender equality policies for the coexistence of men and women,” she added.
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