A UK based Zimabwean student, Malone Mukwende has written a handbook for future doctors to help them recognise conditions on darker skin after they were only taught how to diagnose white patients.
Mukwende said medical schools don’t teach how illnesses appear on dark skin.
Malone Mukwende is a second year medical student at St George’s, University of London.
He wrote a handbook, called Mind The Gap, which helps other medics to diagnose potentially life-threatening diseases on BAME people.
The book is comprised of side by side images which show how illnesses present on light and dark skin and teaches doctors on appropriate language to use with patients.
Said Mukwende to the British Medical Journal
‘On arrival at medical school I noticed a lack of teaching about darker skin.
‘We were often taught to look for symptoms, such as rashes, in a way that I knew wouldn’t appear on my own skin.
‘The booklet addresses many issues that have been further exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as families being asked if potential Covid patients are ‘pale’ or if their lips ‘turned blue’.
He said these are not useful descriptors when it comes to black patients and as a result, their health issues are not given appropriate attention
‘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.’
Mr Mukwende’s handbook will be released in the coming months.
This follows after more than 186,000 people signed a petition urging British medical schools to include BAME representation in their clinical teaching .
They use Kawasaki disease as an example, it presents itself as red, blotchy rash on white skin but it’s harder to spot on darker skin.
St George’s has invested into the handbook and they have partnered Mr Mukwende with a team of lecturers to help him publish the book.
A university spokesperson commented on the latest developments
‘It was agreed that this was a very important issue and an essential part of decolonizing the curriculum.’