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Marking International Albinism Day with new hope
May 4 is observed around the world as International Albinism Day. This year was the seventh observation of the day and in Tanzania the national event was held from 2 – 4 May in Lindi region with the theme, ‘The Principle of Human Rights is Equality.’
The celebrations included an exhibition showcasing a wide variety of handicrafts made by People living with Albinism (PWA). The National Assembly Speaker, Anne Makinda who was the guest of honour got a chance to visit different booths where she was enlightened on the roles of different players including government, the private sector and civil society organisations in raising awareness on the rights of albinos in society and ensuring their security and safety.
The Health and Social Welfare ministry and the Tanzania Albino Society who were the organisers of the event said the exhibition was meant to show that PWAs also have talents and can creatively contribute to the country’s social and economic development if given opportunity.
In another development, Tanzania will soon start manufacturing sunscreen lotion locally for PWAs. The lotion which is of crucial importance for PWAs will be made available under an agreement between Under The Same Sun (UTSS) and the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre’s (KCMC)’s Regional Dermatology Training Centre (RDTC). Under the agreement, UTSS will support the construction of a comprehensive care unit for albinos at the KCMC in Moshi.
While presenting the news to the Speaker Hon. Makinda, the UTSS Tanzania Executive Director Vicky Ntetema said that the manufacturing of the lotion would be a relief to PWAs who are vulnerable to skin cancer owing to their lack of melanin – the natural colour that protects the skin against ultra violet sunrays.
Most albinos cannot afford the imported sunscreen lotion which costs about TZS 47,000 per bottle and does not last not more than one month.
Ms Ntetema said: “Under the collaboration agreement expected to be signed later this month, UTSS and RDTC will offer medical support to persons with albinism, create employment opportunities mainly to persons with the genetic condition and help them access compounding training.”
She said the aim was to empower PWAs with professional training “so that they themselves can run the sunscreen production plant in future.” She added that the idea was to have free high quality sun blocks given to PWAs across the country.