Albinos Seek Non- discriminatory Pact In Ekiti | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Albinos Seek Non- discriminatory Pact In Ekiti

Posted: May 23, 2015 at 5:44 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Yaqoub Popoola, Ado-Ekiti


We are not demons, we are human beings like you and we deserve to be given equal rights like every other person. These are facts which Albinos presented to the public during the recently celebrated National Albinism Day Celebration in Ekiti State.

They pushed these forwards to replace the age long fallacies and erroneous belief about albinism.



At the event which took place at the Pathfinders Hotels, Ado-Ekiti members relived their nasty experiences in dealing with others members of the society. Many of them recalled with nostalgia how they fought against naked discrimination and deliberate isolation in schools and other work places, but they were determined to change their story and public perception.

The State Coordinator of the group, Com Muyiwa Abegunde appealed to the government at all levels to look into the prevalence of albinism in Nigeria for proper policy formulation.

Abegunde lamented how some of the sufferers are being deprived of education, even by their own parents on account of the status of members and health challenges confronting them, particularly the prevalent skin cancer.

He urged the Federal Government to design a special healthcare and education systems for the group to mitigate all forms of health hazards bedevilling the members.

“There is rampancy of skin cancer among albinos likewise educational progression is being impeded by natural sight problem. So, government must design a special education system for them to encourage them to have formal education.

“Education is a right with no prejudice to a particular child or adult. It has no respect for the colour of the skin or race, king or slave, age or sex. Necessary steps need to be taken to enhance the learning process of persons with albinism.

“The classroom teachers or literacy facilitators should appreciate the problems of pupils, students and adults with albinism so as to be able to manage those challenges.

A Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and a leader of the Albino in Ekiti State, Dr Ebenezer Ogunlade in his paper said the word Albinism originates from the Latin word “albus’ meaning “white”. According to him, it is a congenital disorder characterized by the incomplete or partial absence of pigment in the skin hair and the eyes due to defect of an enzyme involved in the production of melanin. In other words, Albinism is a hypo- pigmentary genetic condition caused by due to inadequate melanin pigment.

He explained that Albinism is a global phenomenon which affects all ethnic background .Its frequency is approximately one in 17,000.

For example Nigeria is estimated to have one of the highest albinism prevalence in the world .Children constitutes about 40percent.

Ogunlade itemized two main types of albinism to include Oculocutaneous, affecting the eyes, skin and hair and Ocular which affects the eyes only.

Some of eyes problems common with albinism are ; Nystagmus which irregular rapid movement of the eyes back and forth in circular motion .Photophobia and Decrease in visual acuity ,Amblyopia ( decrease in acuity of one or both eyes due to poor transmission to the brain often due to other eye condition such as strabismus .

Another problem listed is Optic Nerve Hypoplasia which is the underdevelopment of optic nerve or poorly developed retina epithelium.

The condition can be managed “there is no cure for albinism which is not a sickness or disease.

People living with albinism need to take care not to ‘ sun burn ‘and should have regular healthy skin checks by a dermatologist because of the risk of skin cancer and other skin condition.

Treatment of the eye condition consists of the visual rehabilitation.”

The speaker also suggested that surgery could improve visual urging albinos to always use bright angle reading lights, bifocals with strong reading lens and large print materials .Hand held devices such as magnifiers or monovukars could also assist visuals.

For the prevention of the skin cancer and problems, Ogunlade recommended wearing of long sleeves of highly woven fabrics, sunglasses, and hat with a wide brim.

Albinos are also encouraged to always use sunscreen lotions especially those that filters ultraviolet rays with sun protection factor.

In summary, he clarified that Albinism is not a condition that is contagious and those living with it could neither blind nor see better at night.

Also speaking at the event, former Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies at the University of Maiduguri, Prof. Muyiwa Igbalajobi, said the law would help in mainstreaming Albinos to the Nigerian society.

The body said the challenges being confronted in terms of discrimination in the areas of employment, marriage are killing the potentials of members and reducing them to beggars in the Nigerian society.

Prof Igbalajobi said the law should our rightly bar  the menace of discrimination and criminalise the stigmatization of the sufferers as inferior beings that should be subjected to all forms of dehumanization.

He said: “There is urgent need for the National Assembly for the passage of a bill into law that would mainstream albinism into the Nigerian family system.

“This law will assist the albinos in the areas of employment, welfare packages, and prevent regular discrimination and stigmatization these people are facing in Nigeria.

“It will also help in the participation of albinos in the socio-economic and political programmes. There is the desire by albinos to be involved in programmes by local, state and federal government of Nigeria.

“This involvement will encourage mutual integration between the albinos and the general public and remove all negative tendencies and impressions about them”.

Igbalajobi urged the group to continue to mobilize its members to have formal education, describing this as the most potent instrument that would make them relevant in the country.