13th June marks International Albinism Awareness Day. This year, the world commemorated Strength Beyond All Odds, as persons with albinism rise and defy social hurdles. Around the world, people living with albinism demonstrate their talents and shine in all domains of life. We celebrate your gifts, skills and personhood. Let us all fight to destroy stigma and barricades against persons with albinism- not on one day, but every single day.
What is albinism?
Albinism is a non-contagious, inherited genetic condition. Persons with albinism have a reduced amount of melanin pigment in the skin, hair and/or eyes. Therefore, most persons with albinism have light skin and hair, and may also have light eyes. However, levels of pigmentation can vary according to an individual’s type of albinism. Albinism occurs in all racial and ethnic groups.
Typically, persons with albinism:
- Have vision problems that are not correctable
- Need to protect the skin and eyes from the sun, through clothing and hats, eyewear and sunscreen
Living With Albinism in Zimbabwe
In Zimbabwe, people living with albinism face a number of significant systemic and social challenges. These include:
- A high mortality rate, because sunscreen and skin cancer treatments are expensive and inaccessible
- Dropping out of school, because skincare and vision assistance are out of reach
- Stigma and beliefs that albinism is caused by evil spirits or spiritual punishment
- Affected family stability
- Affected access to opportunities and employment
- Discrimination and violence
Lifting Up Persons with Albinism
This year, Generation Health has partnered with the Zimbabwe Albino Association. “Through this partnership, we have made donations directly based on the needs and requirements of persons with albinism,” said Generation Health Head of Marketing and Business Development, Caroline Mbofana Dyirakumunda. “In addition, Generation Health supported and participated in this year’s International Albinism Awareness Day event in Zaka Jerera. Working hand in hand with communities continues to be a priority for us.”
How You Can Help
- Educate yourself about albinism and think about your own beliefs
- Do not call people living with albinism any names
- Challenge those around you who spread misinformation or behave violently towards persons with albinism
- Don’t leave people with albinism out of opportunities for education, employment or social benefit
- Consider supporting the work of organisations such as Zimbabwe Council for the Blind and Zimbabwe Albino Association. These help persons with albinism to access training and resources. Alternatively, you can help those who are less privileged by sponsoring or donating clothing, eyewear, and skincare items and medical checkups.
For more information about albinism in Zimbabwe, contact Zimbabwe Albino Association.