Address discrimination against persons with albinism, group tells government

By Lara Adejoro

The Albino Network Association has called on government at all levels to address the inequalities and violations that Persons With Albinism suffer in their struggle to exercise their fundamental human rights in Nigeria.

TANA made the call in a statement it released in commemoration of the 2021 International Albinism Awareness Day.

The day is commemorated every 13th of June around the world.

According to the Chairman of TANA, Mr. Jaiyeola Fatungase “Though in Nigeria, killing and maiming of PWA is rare, the stigma associated with the condition is debilitating.

Fatungase groaned that many persons living with albinism across communities in Nigeria continue to bear the burden of skin cancer even Though it is preventable if detected early.

“Poverty, social exclusion, scarce and expensive sunscreen, as well as non-inclusion of PWAs in the health policy of the government is an infringement of our right to health and makes skin cancer a major threat to our longevity especially for those in rural areas.

“As one of the marginalised groups left farther behind, we must begin to be included in health interventions as envisaged by the maxim of ‘leaving no one behind’ propounded by the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The association also bemoaned the high cost associated with educating children with albinism due to scarce and expensive assistive devices such as magnifiers, sunscreen, and sun-shielding clothing.

“Besides, absence of reading materials in large print, magnifiers for reading, allotment of more time during exams due to their vision impairment are some of the non-inclusive policies on education that hinder the performance of pupils with albinism.

Other impediments to inclusive education for children with albinism, according to TANA, also include teachers’ indifference to their needs, such as not permitting them to copy notes from others after lessons and disallowing them from sitting in front of the class to have a clearer view of the board. In educational settings.

“Children with albinism also face bullying, name-calling, taunting, discrimination and stigmatisation from teachers and fellow pupils. Worst of all, other children refuse to play with children with albinism sometimes on the orders of their parents or due to long-held and unfounded beliefs about albinism.”

As a result of the education inequality suffered by PWAs, Fatungase noted that the community sometimes lack the prerequisite educational requirements to get decent indoor jobs, hence, many PWAs are left to engage in menial jobs in outdoor settings, such as farming and hawking, which in turn expose them to the sun, resulting in skin diseases.

The theme of this year’s commemoration is ‘strength beyond all odds’. and aims to highlight the good qualities of people living with albinism worldwide; show that PWAs were made to defy all odds; celebrate how PWAs globally attain and surpass expectation in all facets of life and encourage humanity during this period of the pandemic and to unite through a worldwide cause to build back better.

According to the United Nations, the prevalence of albinism ranges from 1 in 5000 to 1 in 15,000 persons, with some populations in southern Africa even having 1 in 1000 persons. In Nigeria in particular, there is no accurate data on the population of PWAs due to a lack of disaggregated data.

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