"It is essential we begin to educate others, so they are aware of such differences and the power of the clinical language we currently use."- Malone Mukwende
Malone Mukwende Malone Mukwende/Wikimedia Commons Malone Mukwende, a medical student at St. George’s Univeristy of London, created a medical handbook which details how different conditions appear on black and brown skin, after the COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted ‘white skin bias,’ in the medical field.
Medical handbooks have often shown how symptoms look on white skin, whether it be in the images or descriptions. For instance, a symptom of eczema is often described as “red, dry, and itchy skin,” which is how it appears on light skin. However, according to the National Eczema Association, on darker skin tones (such as brown or black), eczema is much more likely to be “darker brown, purple or ashen grey,” in colour.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, patients were sometimes asked if they looked “pale,” or if their “lips had turned blue.” Mukwende explained that “These are not useful descriptors for a black patient and, as a result, their care is compromised from the first point of contact. It is essential we begin to educate others, so they are aware of such differences and the power of the clinical language we currently use.”
In order to begin this process, Malone Mukwende collaborated with Senior Lecturer in Diversity and Medical Education, Margot Turner, and Clinical Lecturer in Clinical Skills, Peter Tamony, to produce a new, more inclusive medical handbook. ‘Mind the Gap’ includes images of how symptoms appear on all skin tones, as well as suggestions of more appropriate phrases that doctors should aim to use with patients.
With the majority of the world’s population being non-white, it is imperative that medical professionals are able to correctly identify and diagnose symptoms on darker skins. ‘Mind the Gap’ will help ensure that medical students and trainee doctors go into the profession better equipped to help people, regardless of their ethnic background.
The handbook is available to download online and discussions with potential publishers are under way. Though complete inclusivity in the medical field may take some time, ‘Mind the Gap’ is sure to kick-start conversations and educate young doctors around the globe, ensuring everyone can receive the best possible care.
 Kaufman, Bridget. Eczema in Skin of Color: What You Need to Know. [Online] Available https://nationaleczema.org/blog/eczema-in-skin-of-color/.2022.
 Hanson, Molly. UK medical student creates handbook to show clinical symptoms on darker skin. [Online] Available https://bigthink.com/health/medical-student-creates-handbook-to-show-clinical-symptoms-on-darker-skin/#Echobox=1671859356.2022.
Page created on 2/1/2023 10:54:04 AM
Last edited 2/2/2023 5:45:30 PM