International Albinism Awareness Day (13th June, 2018)

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Albinism in humans is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. Albinism is associated with a number of vision defects, such as photophobia, nystagmus, and amblyopia. Lack of skin pigmentation makes for more susceptibility to sunburn and skin cancers. In rare cases such as Chédiak–Higashi syndrome, albinism may be associated with deficiencies in the transportation of melanin granules. This also affects essential granules present in immune cells leading to increased susceptibility to infection.

Albinism is an inherited or a genetic disorder associated with lack of melanin in particular, in the eyes, skin, hair, scales, feathers or cuticle. People with albinism face major health problems, including skin cancer, involuntary eye movements, and poor eyesight. It is considered the worst experience to be born an albino in Africa because they face the following challenges;

  • They run all day not from wild animals and neither are they competitors in a running competition, but run away from their fellow human beings, who should be showing them love but aren’t.
  • Face a lot of discrimination
  • Sexual abuse against them is the order of the  day
  • Constantly being targeted for use in black magic / rituals
  • They lack adequate health care
  • Difficulties accessing education
  • Lack of employment.
  • Homelessness
  • Many are living with skin cancer with no medical attention given to them.
  • Victims of crime
  • Bullying in schools
  • Lack of food & adequate shelter
  • Lack proper clothing
  • Lack adequate information on how to take care of themselves

You can improve the lives of an albino by;

  • Providing them with access to hats,
  • Provide high-factor sun screen, dermatology and other health care services.
  • Provide them access to cryosurgery, which is a liquid nitrogen used to remove pre-cancerous lesions from the skin of people with albinism,
  • Provide protection for them against those who want to hunt them for their body parts
  • Sensitize people against hurting them

Albinos are human beings and they should be treated with care and dignity.

Compiled by Grace Sitienei – University of Nairobi Library

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