Chidiebere Ibe is creating medical illustrations of Black people

By Amarachi Orie, CNN

Updated 4:02 AM ET, Thu January 13, 2022
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This image by Nigerian illustrator Chidiebere Ibe of a Black fetus in the womb went viral last December. Still a medical student, Ibe will now have some of his illustrations published in a clinical handbook. Chidiebere Ibe
After seeing his illustrations, medical student Malone Mukwende invited Ibe to collaborate with him on the second edition of his book "Mind the Gap: A clinical handbook of signs and symptoms in Black and Brown Skin." "Chidiebere's work was refreshing as it showed that there is a future where there'll be representation in textbooks," said Mukwende.
Chidiebere Ibe
Ibe only started creating medical illustrations in 2020. On White skin, chicken pox is known to appear as red spots. Here, he depicts how chicken pox might appear on dark skin, with hyperpigmentation. Chidiebere Ibe
Ibe is creative director at the Association of Future African Neurosurgeons and all his illustrations are of Black people. "Even if I'm working on anatomy, I would try as much as possible to (do) this on a Black person. So, it is a deliberate act," he says. Chidiebere Ibe
Dr. Jenna Lester, an assistant professor in the department of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco, and director of the university's Skin of Color program, describes Ibe's illustrations as "incredible." Chidiebere Ibe
"The more you expose yourself to different manifestations of something, the better able you are to diagnose it," says Lester. Chidiebere Ibe
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common rash that causes red, scaly, greasy skin. However, on people with dark skin, the affected area may instead appear lighter than the surrounding skin. Chidiebere Ibe
Ibe says that he wants diversity in medical illustrations to "become the norm" so that when medical students "become qualified physicians, they will have a better way of diagnosing their patients. Once that is accepted into the system, I believe that there will be a better healthcare delivery. I believe that the disparities in healthcare will be less." Pictured, warts on Black skin. Chidiebere Ibe
Even in Nigeria, White skin images dominate the medical literature, says Ibe. His goal is to set up a network of African illustrators. Chidiebere Ibe
Ibe plans to become a pediatric neurosurgeon and is working on a textbook about birth defects in children. He says they will all be illustrated in Black skin. Chidiebere Ibe