The Anambra State Albinism Association (ASAA) on Sunday said it lost three members to skin cancer in five months.
Vivian Ezeonwumelu, Chairperson, ASAA, disclosed this in an interview in Awka to mark the International Albinism Awareness Day commemorated every June 13.
The International Albinism Awareness Day was instituted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 18, 2014, to promote the awareness in the society on issues of Persons with Albinism to curb the rate of marginalization and stigmatization.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is – “United in Making Our Voice Heard.”
Ms. Ezeonwumelu lamented that the majority of persons with Albinism (PWA) had no access to treatment due to poverty, ignorance, myths and misconceptions about albinism.
According to her, due to lack of melanin, their skin pigments are vulnerable to skin cancers, hair and eye defects.
She urged the state government to establish a healthcare support scheme for persons with albinism to reduce the rate of death due to skin cancer.
“We need free or subsidized medical care to reduce the rate of skin cancer in the albinism community.
“Just in the space of five months, we lost three of our members to skin cancer.
“We are appealing to the government to sponsor seminars where dermatologists and eye doctors can come to run a check up for PWA at least once in six months.
“Children or students with albinism should also be allowed to wear long sleeves and wide brimmed hats to school.
“This is to protect them from the ultraviolet radiation from the sun that exposes them to skin cancer, ” she said.
Ms. Ezeonwumelu said that persons with albinism also face the challenge of social discrimination due to erroneous beliefs and myths, influenced by superstition.
She urged the public to end all forms of discrimination and stigmatization meted on persons with albinism, saying that they are human beings and should be treated alike.
Also speaking, Ify Obinabo, Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare, encouraged persons with albinism to always work on their self-esteem and disregard the negative perception the society had toward them.
“No human on earth is ever complete, therefore, refuse to be intimidated by the perceptions of the public. In you lies great potential waiting to be explored,” she said.
Ms Obinabo advised parents to endeavour to train their children in school.
“Persons with albinism can excel in any profession if given the opportunity,” she said.
In his remarks, Ugochukwu Okeke, the Chairman, Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities, Anambra Chapter, said Anambra was the only state in the South-East that had a law to protect the rights of persons with disabilities.
Mr. Okeke urged Governor Charles Soludo-led administration to consolidate on the existing achievements by implementing the law to alleviate the plight of the PWDs in the state.