When was the last time you found medical illustration in dark skin tones? Diversity In medical illustration has been a trending topic around the world for many years. The textbooks and illustrations have been published displaying light skin tone. Many Africans do not know how a dark skin tone can look on these medical books.
However, there is a revolution happening with the medical books as a Nigerian medical student and illustrator Chidiebere Ibe has started creating textbook illustrations for the back. His work has gotten the attention of millions of people around the world. Thanks to social media, that has amplified his work, bringing the lack of diversity in the illustrations found in our medical sector.
Ibe said that his purpose is to bring equity in healthcare when he illustrates the black of Africans. He looks forward to a world where medical illustration can depict different races. Ibe’s work has found a major flaw in the field that the world should gradually correct. The illustration would be able to help kids in poor African countries learn about themselves.
The world of medical illustration
Medical illustrations are diagrams used to communicate and record pathologies, procedures, and other facets of the medical sector. It started from the ancient Egyptians and has met people like Ibe, who are creating beautiful illustrations. Medical illustration combines arts and science to make complicated procedures look simple.
Illustrations have become the lifesaver of both medical students and humans in understanding what happens to the human body. These images have found their way to scientific journals, textbooks, presentations, films, and other mediums. The illustration field is a lucrative field that has employed thousands of gifted people around the world.
However, according to the Associations of Medical Illustrators, medicine has at least 2,000 medical illustrators trained. In North America, a few expensive accredited medical illustration courses are run to train illustrators. Most students are white and male.
This means that they have to continue with the way illustrations have been displayed. Historically, we have always found medical illustrations as white able-bodied male figures. Today, Ibe is championing a course that others would follow.
Why diversity matters
Diversity matters in the medical field because these illustrations affect the way patients, practitioners, and medical trainees see the human body. Professionals in the field are limited when it comes to accurately diagnosing and treating people from other races who do not fit these illustrations.
For decades, we have found inadequately illustrated images and photographs in peer-reviewed academic publications. The inequities have a downstream impact on the provision and accessibility of healthcare. If other illustrators can come up with their race illustrations on medical books or publications, many people would identify more with equality and diversity in the field. We hope to see different illustrations of the human body in all shades of skin tones. If Ibe’s work is funded, we are onto something amazing for Africans. We hope that his work would bring the diversity that the world has waited for long if adopted by publishers of these medical books.