ALBINISM AWARENESS MONTHSeptember 15, 2020
In South Africa, the month of September is used to create awareness and educate on Albinism. This article will focus on the explanation of albinism, the causes, treatment, discrimination and the importance of raising awareness on albinism.
Studies show that one out of two people in Africa are born with Albinism. Albinism is a generic condition that reduces melanin pigment in the body, it is usually formed around the eyes, hair and the skin. Albinism is a genetically inherited disorder, that can be passed on from generations to generations, found in all race and ethnic groups.
Treatment for genetically inherited diseases is unlikely, and albinism is no exception. According to Mayoclinic, treatment of the eyes, skin care and prevention of skin cancer can be treated. For eye care, healthcare workers recommend an annual eye exam and the wearing of special lends to protect the eye, especially from the sunlight. Although not much can be done about skin care, doctors recommend screening for skin cancer each year or wounds that could be carriers of skin cancer.
Albinism is a difficult disease to treat. Albinism in children is complex as children are more exposed to discrimination in schools, and some find it hard to study. Mayoclinic recommends these home remedies for such cases:
- The use of low visual aids like magnifying glasses, tablets synced to smart boards, etc make it easier for the child at school.
- Sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater is recommended to protect against sunlight due to extreme sensitivity/burn.
- The wearing of protective clothing is essential because it will protect against the harsh UV sun rays. Wearing clothes of colour is even better.
- Wearing of dark, UV sun blocking glasses is essential to protect the eyes.
Albinism is celebrated because of the stereotypes and discrimination against the albino community. The importance of celebrating albinism awareness month is to educate people on the truths of albinism. Common myths include:
- Albinism is contagious, this is not true. Albinism is genetically inherited.
- Albinism is a curse or punishment, Albinism is genetically passed down, it is not a punishment, or curse.
- People with albinism are not intelligent, this is false. Albinism does not associate with intelligence. However, the lack of pigmentation does affect the eyes, which does have an effect on eyesight leading to complications in the course of learning. But nothing to do with how the brain functions.
- People with albinism (PWA) can cure HIV/AIDS, this is false. PWA cannot cure HIV/AIDS nor are they evil. Myths like these have led to the killings of many PWA for ritual purposes especially in the African countries.
It is of importance that people with albinism are treated with respect and their condition is understood, as this has been genetically passed down to them. The awareness campaign on albinism should not only be remembered in September, but also educated on about all the time. Myths discussed above have led to many brutal deaths of PWA because of false beliefs, and endangered the lives of many children affected by albinism.