Mr John Majisi, Member of Parliament (MP) for Krachi Nchumuru has called on government to mainstream issues of albinism and disability at all levels of the educational system.
According to him, a reliable and accurate database of all persons with albinism would ensure timely dissemination of information and continuous provision of support services to persons with the condition. Mr Majisi made the statement on the floor of Parliament on the occasion of the celebration of the third International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) which fell on June 13, 2017.
The International Albinism Awareness Day had been proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) to spread information about albinism. The theme for this year’s celebration is: “Advancing with renewed hope”. Persons with albinism are born with a congenital condition characterised by complete or partial absence of melanin, the pigment which gives colour to the skin, hair and eyes. Albinism is non-contagious and occurs in all racial and ethnic groups throughout the world.
Mr Majisi also called for the inclusion of sun care products, dermatological and optical services on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) drugs and services list for persons with albinism. He said persons with albinism face multiple forms of discrimination worldwide because of their distinctive appearance.
He said they are often denied the most basic rights, such as access to education, healthcare, employment, right to political participation, social and family life and their freedom of movement is curtailed. Mr Majisi also noted that in the area of health, persons with albinism have pale or fair skin susceptible to sunburns, skin cancers, wrinkling of the skin and chapped lips which could lead to cancer and live with poor vision not correctible either by medication and or eye glasses.
He said most persons with albinism encountered obstacles in formal schooling and skill acquisition as their impaired vision rendered them unable to copy notes from chalkboards in classrooms. He said there were no tailored textbooks with large fonts to aid their studies and also faced social challenges with inclusion and forming positive relationships with other students as they were often subject to ridicule, exclusion and even ostracism.
Mr Majisi further stated that persons with albinism were generally poorer since they need to spend more on medical care or personal support, and at the same time need to overcome various barriers which prevented them from earning a living.
He said despite Local, Regional and International Human Rights instruments emphasising the importance of human respect and dignity, acts of injustice against persons with albinism in many African countries abound.
Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, MP for Ellembele in his contribution stated that all persons with albinism should be treated with dignity, fairly and given equal opportunity.
He said the nation must also provide a level playing field for individuals with different types of challenges or disability.
Mr Mathias Kwame Ntow, MP for Aowin in his contribution called for the full integration of persons with albinism into society in order for them to contribute their quota to development.
Dr Bernard Okoe Boye, MP for Ledzokuku his contribution called for the setting up of support services for persons with albinism.
He revealed that most persons with albinism were depressed because society viewed them as strange human beings and as such there should be counselling services for them.
He also called for affirmative action for persons with albinism by capturing them unto the NHIS and provide them the opportunity to attend school.