First lady Dr. Jill Biden served as keynote speaker at Morehouse School of Medicine’s Women with Heart luncheon. Held at the Georgia Aquarium, the event was organized as part of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, led by the White House Gender Policy Council.
Dr. Biden used her keynote speech to discuss disparities when it comes to women, race and health.
“If you ask any woman in America about her health care, she probably has a story to tell,” Dr. Biden said. “You know her. She’s the woman who gets debilitating migraines, but doesn’t know why, and can’t find treatment options that work for her. She’s the woman going through menopause, who visits with her doctor and leaves with more questions than answers, even though half the country will go through menopause at some point in their lives. She’s the woman who dies because her heart disease isn’t recognized, since her symptoms don’t look like a man’s heart attack. Because women are more likely than men to die after a heart attack. And Black women are more likely to die from heart disease than women of any other race.”
The first lady urged that findings from research and studies be turned into action.
“We have to turn our knowledge into action,” she said. “And to do that we need to better understand heart disease in women and study it more. Because even though women are half the population, research on women’s health has always been underfunded. Too many medical studies have focused on men and left women out. Too many of the medicine dosages, treatments, medical school textbooks, are based on men and their bodies – and that information doesn’t always apply to women. That means there are big gaps in research on diseases and conditions that only affect women, that disproportionately affect women, or that affect women and men differently.”
She also shared how her husband President Joe Biden has worked to solve those glaring issues.
“In November, President Biden launched the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research,” she said. “We have a clear goal: to fundamentally change how our nation approaches and funds women’s health research. Joe issued a presidential memorandum asking federal agencies for their recommendations on how to make the policy changes necessary to advance women’s health research. And he’s instructed agencies to address health inequities as part of this initiative.”
Dr. Biden praised the efforts of Morehouse School of Medicine and the work that is being done in the city of Atlanta.
“Remarkable work is happening here in Atlanta, where universities, entrepreneurs, investors, companies, and city leaders and groups like Women with Heart – are coming together to drive innovation in women’s health,” she said. “We need research at universities to develop breakthroughs. Investors who believe in those ideas. Startups that bring those ideas to the market. Doctors who translate those ideas into treatment plans. And government and advocates who help bring everyone together.”