Medical illustrator, student, and aspiring neurosurgeon Chidiebere Ibe recently went viral for his medical illustrations depicting black bodies. A chemistry graduate from the University of Uyo, Nigeria, Ibe uses his artistic talent to create medical illustrations that tackle the lack of diversity in medical publications by using black models.
After seeing Ibe’s drawings, a Twitter user shared one image saying, “I’ve literally never seen a black foetus illustrated, ever.” The Tweet later caught the attention of TikTok and now Ibe’s work is being celebrated across the globe.
"The reactions have been amazing, touching and inspiring,” Ibe told Sky News. “I’ve felt emotional about it all.
"Representation in medical illustrations is important because through that there will be healthcare equity, people will love themselves, see themselves and there will be better health outcomes."
Ibe’s work shines a light on the damaging role white-centered medical practices can play in patient outcomes, as symptoms are often documented in a way that only takes white skin into consideration.
“The skin is considered a window into health. But clinicians who haven’t been properly trained often fail to see some conditions in patients with Black skin,” wrote Dr Art Papier, co-author of VisualDx: Essential Dermatology in Pigmented Skin, for Stat News. “Reggae pioneer Bob Marley died of melanoma, a treatable skin cancer that is often missed and misdiagnosed in Black people.”
Through his work, Ibe joins others fighting for better representation in medical illustrations, with a shared goal of both improving diagnosis and treatment which could lead to better outcomes. Since his images took the internet by storm, a GoFundMe intended to raise tuition fees for Ibe to study medicine in Ukraine has since raised over $35,000 so that he may continue his important work.
“The whole purpose was to keep talking about what I’m passionate about – equity in health care,” Ibe told HuffPost UK, “and also to show the beauty of Black people.”
Click here to see more of Chidiebere Ibe’s work.