Gender medicine: the first meeting of the board of the Regional Representatives for the application of the National Plan at the Italian National Institute of Health

Alessandra Carè1, Elena Ortona1, Cristina Tamburini2, Renata Bortolus2

1Center for Gender-Specific Medicine, Italian National Institute of Health; 2Directorate General for Health Prevention, Ministry of Health, Italy


On January 28, the board of the Representatives selected by the Regions for the application of the National Plan on Gender Medicine approved last year by the State-Regions Conference, pursuant to Art. 3 of Law 3/2018, met for the first time at the Italian National Institute of Health (ISS - Istituto Superiore di Sanità ). With this first meeting, the Panel – born from the joint commitment of the Ministry of Health and the Center for Gender Medicine of the ISS – aimed at drawing an accurate picture of the existing situation, while identifying the activities necessary for a correct and uniform national application of gender medicine.

This meeting is a first tangible step for the application of the Law. For this purpose, critical is the work of the Regional Representatives, who will have to identify and transfer into each Region the activities specified by the National Plan, for their implementation within the regional health plans and for the inclusion of gender as both a clinical and organizational indicator.

The Plan, adopted by Decree of the Minister of Health of 13 June 2019, identifies gender as an essential part of the clinical activity, as well as of the planning and organization of the healthcare offer, in order to ensure the appropriateness of the services, according to the principles of equity and universality of the National Health Service.

To describe the state of the art at national level, each Representative was provided with a form to be filled in with data relating to their own Regional Health Service. Each Region reported the actions undertaken in their own territory and those planned in the short and medium term. As expected, a considerable heterogeneity emerged at national level, with some Regions already organized in the gender medicine field and others that have yet to take the first steps, but all of them showed participation and interest. Since each Representative will have to establish a regional technical group of experts in this sector, the first need arisen from the meeting was to organize specific training courses, mainly where these figures are not present. To achieve the proposed objectives, it will be essential to create a collaborative network between central Institutions, such as the Ministry of Health and the ISS, and the Regional Representatives, who in turn will form a widespread network within their territory in order to introduce the gender approach into the healthcare practice of each referral hospital and local health unit. This important and well-shared opportunity represented the first step towards an actual application of gender medicine, a step that places Italy at the forefront in Europe.

The hope for the near future is to be joined by the Observatory dedicated to this issue, as required by Law 3/2018.