Innovative Contributions to Medicine: Malone Mukwende - BHM Edition

As we celebrate Black History Month, Melanin Medics have the privilege of interviewing some great individuals doing amazing things for the black community within the world of medicine. This week we had the pleasure of getting to know more about Malone Mukwende who produced the resource called Mind the Gap: a handbook of clinical signs in black and brown skin.

Please kindly introduce yourself and what you do?

My name is Malone and I am a third year medical student. I study medicine at St George's, University in London. Aside from that, I am an Arsenal fan, and of course, I like to have fun!

Tell me a bit more about your journey into medicine

My journey into Medicine was very complicated and haphazard. I was actually rejected before interview stage by four medical schools – Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester and Oxford. However, on results day, I was accepted into St. George’s to study Medicine, via clearing with 3A’s. So, I guess it all works out in the end.

What inspired you to start this initiative/project?

There were quite a few things that inspired me. Firstly, there was not any substantial teaching in my medical school about dermatological presentations on darker skin. I also found it ironic that, whenever I learnt content in dermatology, why is it that when I went onto the wards and met a patient with darker skin, I could not tell what their condition was? But, as soon as I saw a white patient, I instantly knew what condition they were presenting with. I was always second guessing the presentation and diagnosis in darker skinned people that I met on the wards, leading me to wonder why this was the case. From then, I was searching for answers from my lecturers. However, deep down, I knew that I would not get answers any time soon, so I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to create that answer. That is how Mind The Gap came into fruition. I always wrote down my ideas on paper, and I knew that I wanted to get this information out. Even though at some points, it felt as though I was ‘collecting scraps’ with lack of information and resources, I did not give up despite the difficulty of this project.

What has been the most rewarding part of this project so far?

It has been so heart-warming to see that Mind The Gap is revolutionising healthcare, and changing medical practice. It has been rewarding to see that people out there are genuinely being helped by Mind The Gap. For example, I recently received a handwritten letter from someone in Sweden praising Mind The Gap. Also, a GP has recently reached out to me to inform me that he has been using Mind The Gap, which is greatly supporting him in his practice. I am not even a qualified medical doctor yet, so it is honestly so rewarding! Mind The Gap is raising awareness in the medical world, and changing the bias that exists in healthcare. I always say, it makes me sleep at night, knowing that there is also someone out there who is sleeping at night because of Mind The Gap.

So what does a typical week look like for you?