Angelina Jolie has confessed that her children have suffered injustices as a result of their ethnicities in the health system due to general ignorance. The actress has explained it in an interview she has done to Malone Mukwende, a medical student in London, for the magazine Time.
Jolie expresses her bewilderment at the ignorance of the medical system about the appearance of different symptoms in dark skin, recounting the anecdote she lived with one of her daughters: “Recently, my daughter Zahara, whom I adopted from Ethiopia, had an operation, and after the procedure, a nurse told me to call them if her skin ‘turned pink’.”
The actress has explained that she is aware that a diagnosis can be different depending on the complexion of the person: “I have children from different backgrounds, and I remember that, when everyone had a rash, it looked extremely different depending on the color of their skin, but when I consulted the medical reports, the reference point was always light-skinned.”
In the interview, Angelina Jolie and Malone Mukwende discussed the release of the book Mind the gap and the platform Hutano, both created by the 21-year-old in order to put an end to basic medical ignorance.
The point is that all textbooks only show examples of symptoms on light skin, so doctors can misinterpret a diagnosis that is shown differently on dark skin: “When in class I asked what a symptom would look like in other skin tones, they usually told me they didn’t know.” , the student explained.
Mukwende explains the most severe case
“By the time the doctor realized it, it was too late.”
The consequences of this ignorance can be lethal, as Mukwende commented: “There was a case in the early 2000s in the UK. It was about a girl, Victoria Climbié, who was being abused by her great-aunt and her boyfriend. He showed up at the hospital and had visible lesions on his skin.” Because of the lack of information explained above, the doctor believed that it was simply a case of scabies, and that Climbié had scratched and thus caused the injuries, as claimed by his guardians. By the time the doctor realized it was a case for social services, it was too late, as the girl had already died at the hands of guardians.
The 21-year-old claims that this is a global problem, especially in Africa or Asia: “A student from Zimbabwe contacted me. He told me that all the reference books and images they use are also light-skinned, even though the majority of the population is dark-skinned.” “There are individual cases of people who know the differences, so now we have to empower those voices, hoping that the individual will pass into collective knowledge,” Malone Mukwende said.
Angelina Jolie highlights how impressed she is with the young man who has managed to publish the book and create the platform even as a medical student and his mission