AHEAD of the June 13, International Albinism Awareness Day, albinos in Abia State have bemoaned the growing exclusion, and discrimination they suffer from society and called for a change of public perception of albinism.
At a session with journalists in Umuahia on Thursday, the Coordinator of the State Albino Foundation, Ugonwa Okeke, lamented the challenges they face as albinos and appealed to the state government to pay attention to the needs of albinos.
She noted that albinos are discriminated against in everything from marriage to employment and disclosed that of about 175 registered albinos in the state, only a few were employed despite their academic qualifications.
Okeke, a staff of the Primary Healthcare Department of Aba South Local Government Area, who considers herself lucky, said: “I am an example when it comes to discrimination against albinos. In the Local Government, they have never sent me to a workshop or training, even if it is internal, since I was employed.”
She said, “albinos don’t easily get married because of the ignorance of our people. Many people look at anyone who wants to marrying an albino male or female with scorn. Albinos are humans.”
“Albinos suffer lack of understanding from the public, prejudice, exclusion, lack of empowerment, health issues, stigmatization, dehumanization and wanton murders.”
The Secretary of Abia Albino Foundation, Bright Sunday Nze, said, “the plight of people with Albinism in Abia is that of relegation. Lack of adequate representation has made it difficult to reach members in all the local governments of the state.”
An albino, Chukwuemeka Famous, appealed to government to show concern to the special health needs of albinos, which range from skin cancer to problems with their eyes and said, “government should provide low vision aids (glasses) for those who can’t afford it.”
A public analyst, James Nnadozie Uchegbuo lamented the discriminations albinos suffer and said that “to discriminate against them was inhuman.
“The state and federal lawmakers should enact laws against any form of abuse or discrimination against albinos. Most of them have lost their dignity as persons and are socially timid. In some cultures or traditions, they are even quarantined.”
The Chief Executive Officer/Founder of Albino Foundation, Jake Epelle and Okeke explained that part of the events for this year’s Albinism Awareness Day include the launch of “Ivory Aid Ball” for skin cancer trust fund.
The International Albinism Awareness Day is a United Nations annual event since 2015 to draw awareness to the widespread discrimination, stigmatization, dehumanization and killings of persons with albinism around the world, especially Africa.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Made To Shine,” to celebrate the achievements and successes of persons with albinism worldwide.