Provide free facilities for people with albinism
Published On December 28, 2017 » 1833 Views» By Evans Musenya Manda » Opinion
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A BASIC research shows that Albinism is a rare group of genetic disorders that cause the skin, hair, or eyes to have little or no
colour.
It is also closely associated with vision problems.
According to the United States of America (USA)’s National Organisation for Albinism and Hypopigmentation, about one in 18 -20,000 people, in that vast country, lives with some form of albinism.
In Zambia, there are almost 30,000 people living with albinism, according to the Central Statistical Office.
There are different gene defects characterising the numerous types of albinism, with some less severe than others.
Generally, albinism is caused by some defect in one of several genes that produce or distribute melanin, the pigment that accounts for skin, eyes, and hair colour.
The defect may result in the absence of melanin production, or a reduced amount of its production and the defective gene passes down from both parents to the child and causes albinism.
People with albinism are forced to limit their outdoor activities because their skin and eyes are sensitive to the sun.
The Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can cause skin cancer and vision loss in some people with this condition.
Generally, there is no cure for albinism but treatment for albinism can relieve symptoms and prevent sun damage.
Requirements include sunglasses to protect the eyes from UV rays; protective clothing and sunscreen to protect the skin from UV rays;
prescription eyeglasses to correct vision problems and surgery on the muscles of the eyes to correct abnormal eye movements.
Another important requirement is sun screen lotion, which helps to prevent skin cancer among those living with this condition.
According to Albino Foundation of Zambia (AFZ) executive director John Chiti more than 25,000 persons with albinism in Zambia are currently in need of sun screen lotion.
As the result, Mr Chiti said, his organisation has recorded a lot of skin cancer cases across the country involving people with albinism.
The situation has been compounded by the climate change which poses a great danger to the many lives of those living with albinism,
especially those in rural areas.
It is sad that due to high temperature experienced most part of this year, the people with albinism are greatly affected.
This has led to high incidences of cancer and cancer-related deaths as the result of the sun especially in rural areas of Zambia.
Apart from being expensive the lotion is also not easily accessible making lives difficult for those with albinism, especially the underprivileged ones.
We, therefore, join the AFZ in appealing to government to come up with a deliberate policy to provide free sun screen lotion and other
requirements for all the people with albinism.
Given the causes and the fact that this condition is hereditary, this seems to be a pure case for government support through the provision of free facilities to save life.
In so saying, we have in mind of what is obtaining with the people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) who are put on free Antiretroviral Therapy for life.
Since albinism is, unlike HIV, not infectious, it is easier to manage those living with it because the addition is only through new births.
We, therefore, appeal to the government, through the Ministry of Health and other relevant wings, to seriously look at ways of providing free services to those with albinism just like what is being done for those living with HIV.
Imagine how many lives the country could have lost through HIV/AIDS if the government had not come up with the deliberate policy to provide free Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for life for people living with the virus which causes AIDS!
Some of the people have remained productive despite living with the virus for years thereby continuing contributing to national development and those living with albinism can continue doing the same if supported!

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