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Johnson & Johnson funds library of medical illustrations featuring people of color

In a pragmatic move to improve racial equity in healthcare, Deloitte has launched Illustrate Change. Developed alongside Nigerian medical illustrator Chidiebere Ibe with funding from Johnson & Johnson, Illustrate Change will be the most extensive library of diverse medical illustrations.

Medical illustrations play a crucial role in healthcare, facilitating the education of medical students and helping explain conditions to patients. But fewer than 5% show people with dark skin. Illustrate Change seeks to fix that imbalance. This isn't just about representation and reducing implicit biases; health conditions can manifest differently across skin tones. Take atopic dermatitis: most medical illustrations depict a red rash on white skin, even though it will appear darker brown, purple or ashen grey on brown and black skin. Improving medical imagery can directly influence health outcomes.

Illustrate Change is kicking off with 25 illustrations across a range of health conditions. Over the next year and through a fellowship program sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, the Association of Medical Illustrators will train ten medical artists to create 100 additional images featuring people of color. The images are free to download for educational and training purposes.

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Illustrations are a building block of medical training materials. If they almost solely feature white people, that can perpetuate a harmful cycle of implicit bias towards patients of color. For healthcare and all other spheres of life, removing biases requires letting go of white-as-default.

Diversity and inclusion aren't just buzzwords or items to check off. They're fundamental values that promote equity and justice. And sometimes, the most meaningful way to boost representation is through simple, practical revisions of age-old oversights. Time to uncover and amend overlooked instances where your products, services or messaging imply that white (or male, heterosexual, able-bodied, skinny) is the norm?