No better way to start off this blog page than a post from myself. This post will depict the journey of how we got to where we are today and where it all begins.
I started my journey into the medical field in 2018 and from the minute I arrived at medical school I noticed how the treatment of Black and other people of colour appeared to be different or less than compared to their white counterparts. At the time I thought this issue was solely down to the individual as opposed to a systemic issue. I also noticed this was the case from a medical education perspective, we were not being taught how to identify signs and symptoms on black and brown skin.
A moment I vividly remember was learning about the presence of stretch marks in pregnancy and hearing that look for ‘red’ stretch marks on the abdomen. I didn’t know the answers but one thing I knew for sure was that the darker your skin tone, the less likely that is to be the truth.I set out on a very simple journey to address this issue from a learning perspective at medical school and co-authored a handbook called Mind the Gap. This is a clinical handbook of signs and symptoms in black and brown skin. This handbook has truly revolutionised how skin tone is looked at in medicine. The book has been read over 400,000 times in 75% of the countries globally! Insane!
It was important to me to make the change sustainable, important to create structures that will outlive myself as an individual and be able to provide value to the community for years to come. I created www.blackandbrownskin.co.uk to continue the discussion about imagery on black and brown skin. This website merely served as an encyclopaedia of conditions on darker skin. In the process of this website growing I realised that many people would email us with questions about skincare routines and their skin health generally. Of course not being a doctor yet majority of the questions I couldn’t answer. I also knew it wasn’t providing anyone with any value by being unable to answer their questions. That’s where phase 1 of Hutano was born.
The word Hutano translates health in my native language of Shona. I take a lot of pride in maintaining that there are some of my personal roots connected to the mission. This was inspired by the girls building Farai London and Ruka hair (both Zimbabwean terms)
We are on a mission to redefine healthcare for black and brown people by providing them with a healthcare service that they can trust and relate to. Many black and brown people are subject to many health inequalities such as black women being 5x more likely to die during childbirth and 4.5% of images in medical textbooks being of conditions on skin of colour. Now Imagine if we could build a virtual hospital catered directly to the needs of black and brown communities. Like a traditional hospital, this hospital will having various departments such as a waiting room where you can talk to others (the community area you see today) and other areas where you can be seen by a healthcare professional. At the point of writing this the community is 3100 people strong and growing everyday. We have also managed to secure a sponsorship deal with Neutrogena and avidly supported by Angelina Jolie.
Almost 2 years on from starting this journey, I still feel like I’m getting started all over again. The highlight of the journey thus far has been impacting peoples lives all over the world! On a personal note, being on Forbes 30U30 List for the dedication to the mission is also very moving. I am extremely excited about the journey ahead, I want as many people to be a part of the journey. I am looking for High-performance, superstars in their field to join the mission to impact healthcare forever. When I look into the future for Hutano I see an app increasing access to health for our people with an in-person clinic to supplement this care. I also see this being healthcare like you’ve never seen before. Imagine a clinic that plays Afrobeats in the waiting area and healthcare ads that feature beliefs from our communities. In order for us to get to this grandiose vision, a strong focus on team and funding is required.
The approach will be building with the community first. To truly redefine the culture, the culture must always remain at the centre. I want this vision to be achieved with people from the culture too. If not built by us, for us, then who will?
If you have made it this far, I really hope that you are able to be with us every part of the journey. I would also love to speak to you if you are interested in joining the team! We have a range of opportunities which can be accessed here from data scientists to clinical advisory committees
Coming up to 2 years building, learning and iterating. Come so far, still have so far to go...
But for now let me get back to building the future. Fully focused on the road ahead.