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Black History Month

October is black history month and today we are going to take a look at some of the black physicians who changed the world of medicine.


Mary Seacole, a Scottish-Jamaican nurse, has been voted the greatest black Briton for her heroic efforts in health care. Ms. Seacole was refused to be an army nurse during the Crimean war. This did not deter her. She funded the voyage herself and established the British Hotel behind the front lines. Here she provided British soldiers with food and nursed them back to health. She worked hard but for many years only Florence Nightingale was commemorated. However, in recent years, she has received the praise she truly deserved for her dedication and hard work in medicine. A truly remarkable woman.



Annie Brewster was nicknamed ‘nurse ophthalmic’ due to her care and skill in treating people with eye conditions. She worked hard as a nurse in what is now known as the Royal London Hospital for twenty years in the late 19th century.



Dr. Harold Moody was a physician and civil rights campaigner who moved from Jamaica to London for his education and career. In 1931, he founded the League of Coloured People which fought against racial prejudice. As well as fighting for civil rights for black and Asian nationals in Britain he also worked as a doctor during world war 2. He was courageous and always first on the scene to help victims following a bombing during the blitz.



Dr. Charles Drew was a brilliant physician and scientist. He researched blood collection and storage which changed history. He established Blood banks in the UK for the war effort. This provided the Uk with facilities for blood transfusions. However, the armed services here in Britain refused to store black blood together with white blood. Drew resigned from his post as assistant director. Charles then went on continuing to inspire medical students and campaigned for the inclusion of black doctors in medical societies. He is remembered for his contribution to medicine and for fighting racial injustices.




Dame Elizabeth Anionwu is the UK’s first sickle cell and thalassemia nurse specialist. She worked hard in her career and helped to establish the UK’s first sickle cell and thalassemia counselling centre. She is a professor and dean of the nursing school at the University of West London. She also established a centre for nursing practice in memory of Mary Seacole who we have already mentioned. Recently Dame Anionwu was named one of the most influential nurses in the history of the NHS. Her work for the black and ethnic communities here in the UK is truly admirable.




There are many more black pioneers of healthcare that we can mention, it is an extensive list! This Black History month, read up on the black doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals who have shaped the world of medicine and have fought for equality and justice.


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