A second year medical student at St George's in London, Malone Mukwende, created a medical handbook displaying how symptoms of disease appear on darker skin after he was only taught how to diagnose and recognize condition on white patients.
The future doctor explained, in an interview with British Medical Journal, that medical schools don't teach how illnesses appear on dark skin. He added; "We were often taught to look for symptoms, such as rashes, in a way that I knew wouldn't appear on my own skin."
He stated that "These are not useful descriptions for a black patient, and as a result thereof, their care is compromised from the first point of contact".
Over 186,000 people signed a petition urging doctors to be trained in how rashes present not only on white patients but also on BAME people, leading to St George’s not only backing the future doctor, but has even partnered the student with a team of lecturers to help with the publishing of the book Mind The Gap. A university spokesperson stated that it was agreed by the relevant parties that this was a very important issue and an essential part of decolonizing the curriculum.
Mind The Gap contains side-by-side images showing how illnesses appear on light and dark skin, as well as a doctor language guide stating which is appropriate to use with patients.
The student mentioned that "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'".
In the book, it points to Kawaski disease, which is a rare condition that mainly affects children under the age of five, illustrating that it appears on white skin as a red blotchy rash, but it's much harder to spot on darker skin.
Mukwende's handbook, Mind The Gap, will be released in the coming months.