Africa-centred NGO, Engage Now Africa (ENA), has backed calls on Ghana’s government and other governments in Africa to include free eye and skin care for Albinos in their basic health care policies.
ENA wants stakeholders in education to acknowledge and find solutions to teaching and learning challenges Albinos face in schools.
At an event to mark the UN’s International Albinism Awareness Day on Tuesday, a former Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa, Uche Ajulu, said the peculiar eye and skin defects that all albinos face make it imperative for basic health care policies in Africa to be cover them.
“This is the 21st century and we want albinos to have free eye care in all hospitals across Africa including Ghana and Nigeria. We want albinos to have free skin care, twice a year, because of the indecent exposure to the merciless tropical sun,” she said.
Tuesday’s event, organised by ENA was held at the premises of Ensign College of Public Health at Kpong in the Lower Manya Krobo District of the Eastern Region on the theme “Advancing with Renewed Hope”.
Ghana Country Director of ENA, Cecilia Amankwah, said the call by the former Ambassador is laudable and promised to present a communiqué to Ghana’s government on other ways to improve the health and educational rights of albinos in Ghana.
She said ENA has encountered many reports of discrimination against Albinos in schools across the country, revealing ENA has been leading a sensitisation program throughout Ghana’s communities to develop awareness about the inherited genetic condition.
“Our team is determined to increase the safety and self-esteem of Albinos and create awareness throughout Ghana,” she said.
The UN-sanctioned International Albinism Awareness Day, marked on June 13 every year, is aimed at pushing for an end to discrimination and inhumane treatment meted out against persons with Albino.
In Africa, people with Albinism are often persecuted, dismembered and even killed because of false beliefs and superstitions about them.
These superstitions, mainly perpetuated by witch doctors, are that certain body parts contain magical powers. These witch doctors then use these body parts as ingredients for potions and ritualistic purposes.
Research shows that a full body of an albino can bring in over $70,000.
President of the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism (GAPA), Mawuse Yakor-Hamidu, said at Tuesday’s event that the Association continues to receive reports about ostracisation of people born with the condition by schools, churches, communities and at social gatherings.
“We want the government to mainstream Albinism as a disability at all levels of education. Some textbooks should be printed in large fonts and also teachers should be sensitised on the needs of persons with Albinism,” she urged policy makers.
In a speech read on his behalf, Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, lauded ENA and stated government’s determination to work with other NGOs to improve the rights of persons with Albinism in Ghana.