Calls for more awareness on albinism

NHZT director Willard Musiyarira

MORE awareness on albinism is needed to help fight the stigma around the condition, Noble Hands Zimbabwe Trust (NHZT) has said days after the world commemorated International Albinism Awareness day on June 12.

The commemorations were held under the theme Inclusion is Strength!

Albinism is a genetic condition inherited from both parents which is prevalent worldwide, regardless of ethnicity or gender.

People with albinism lack melanin pigment in their hair, skin and eyes, making them vulnerable to sun exposure which can  lead to skin cancer and severe visual impairment.

According to NHZT, there are 9 753 people with albinism in Zimbabwe as according to the 2022 census.

People with albinism have often had to battle societal myths and prejudice, while they also face health challenges like skin-related problems, especially under hot temperatures.

In an interview this week, NHZT director Willard Musiyarira said although there was still a long way to go in the fight against albinism stigmatisation, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“We are assisting those who have skin-related sickness as well as skin cancer. We also work with public hospitals, whereby when a woman gives birth to a child who has albinism, we provide counselling and education on how to care for that child,” he said.

“Most of the hospitals don’t have adequate medicines or skin creams for that, so we step in.

“In 2021, we began distributing large font text books to children in primary schools so that they can have access to large print as you know they also face acute vision challenges due to the lack of melanin in their eyes.”

The organisation also schools communities on how to cope and co-exist with people with albinism to help them recognise people with albinism’s rights and how to fight misconceptions about the condition.

“From time to time, we assist people who want to start project that support their livelihood so that they don’t depend on assistance or donations, so there is also a place for empowerment there,” he said.

Every month, at least three people with albinism reportedly die of skin cancer in Zimbabwe.

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