Book cover of Divided, with a pixellated image of a person

Divided: Racism, Medicine and Why We Need to Decolonise Healthcare

Annabel Sowememo
Wellcome Collection

This essential and well-written book is a mixture of useful history and current issues in UK healthcare.  The author explores areas including eugenics, race science, development of health policies and treatments. 

Sowemimo brings her personal experience as NHS doctor to her analysis.  Her first-hand accounts of training and practice in UK medicine map her historical research directly on to how healthcare is delivered now.  For example, she gives shocking details on high maternal death rates among Black women, and ties them to prevailing medical myths about Black women that have no basis in fact.

It was recommended to me by a fellow bookseller and history reader, who’d noted the reference to a book we’d both been bowled over by – A Kick in the Belly by Stella Dadzie.  Pair reading the book with a visit to the excellent Genetic Automata exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in Euston, where some of the items mentioned in the book are displayed.

Divided makes informed demands for the future: “We cannot acquire or maintain good health by focusing solely on the needs of a few; we must pay attention to the needs of the least fortunate if we are going to establish a system that works for us all.  You can never know what illness will befall you or when you too will need others to lend their voice to your cause”.  Sowemimo brings in useful experts so you feel you’re getting cutting edge information from those trying to make change.

This is a must read for anyone interested in the history and future of healthcare in the UK.  I learnt so much from this book.

Review by






Leave a Reply

Blog at