The Association of Persons With Albinism, Ekiti State chapter has raised alarm over the rising cases of skin cancer and deaths among its members, urging the government, groups and well-meaning citizens to come to their rescue.
Chairman of the association, Mr Johnson Oniya, who said, “Skin cancer is a deadly ailment disturbing Persons With Albinism in the sub-Saharan region of Africa due to the high intensity of sun,” lamented that members could not afford the high cost of preventing skin cancer.
Oniya, who spoke in Ado Ekiti on Saturday at a press conference to commemorate the 2023 International Albinism Awareness Day with the theme, “Inclusion is Strength”, said his members could not celebrate the occasion on June 13 as they were mourning the loss of members to skin cancer.
He said, “The sun emits ultraviolet rays that cannot be withstood by the skin of PWAs due to low or lack of melanin. Skin cancer had claimed the lives of two of our great leaders in the Ekiti albinism community. The demise of the former chairman of this association, Pastor Alufa Ola and Mrs Bola Salami is making skin cancer a serious threat to the PWAs in Ekiti state.”
“Being a PWA is not synonymous with developing skin cancer if proper measures are put in place,” Oniya said, adding that the challenges confronting PWAs included social stigma, discrimination and health-related issues, impeding the overall well-being and integration of PWAs into society.
He said, “The solutions to the challenges will guarantee the inclusion of PWAs in society. Governments, NGOs and individuals have a crucial role to play in promoting inclusion and protecting the rights of individuals with albinism.”
Oniya canvassed accessible and affordable healthcare for PWAs, saying, “Governments and healthcare providers must ensure that PWAs have access to specialized healthcare services, including regular eye examinations, dermatological care and counselling to address the psychosocial impact of living with albinism.
“Provision of affordable or subsidized sunscreens and protective gears is crucial in reducing the risk of sun-related health complications,” he said.
Oniya advised the state government to ensure that PWAs are safeguarded against discrimination, violence and abuse in areas such as education, healthcare, employment, empowerment and social integration through the implementation of legislation and policies.