By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Revelations have come to the fore that some parents particularly those in rural areas hide their albino children away from society because of the stigma and myths surrounding this condition, as well as possible ridicule for people with this condition. Considering that misconceptions abound, an association that represents this group has called for Government to lend a hand in disseminating accurate information about the genetics and health management of this condition. Modern as the world has become, reports have been received by the Namibia Association Albino Trust (NAAT) that albino children in rural Namibia are hidden away and not allowed to attend school or to socialize in any way. “We have received complaints from Oshikoto that albino children are isolated in their communities. When visitors come, these children are sent away and sometimes told to go sit behind the house. They are not fully regarded as human beings. This should come to an end as albinos are brilliant people who need special care,” said the president of NAAT Joseph Ndi-nomupya. Though he could not indicate how many cases of this nature have been reported to his office, he said early this month his office was made aware about this practice particularly in the Oshikoto Region. He also confirmed that this was not the first time he had received such a complaint from the region. To counter the myths surrounding this condition, Ndinomupya said extensive information dissemination to communities particularly where most cases of discrimination against albinos are reported would be done starting May. Aiming to reach out to the people in Caprivi, Omaheke, Oshikoto, Oshana, Ohangwena, Omusati, Kunene, and Otjozondjupa regions, an education awareness campaign and needs assessment is scheduled for May and June. The northern regions have a registered albino population of 816. “During this period, we will appeal and discuss with the parents to stop abusing, ignoring, and discriminating against people with albinism and encourage them to take their children to doctors when they detect wounds and other skin problems,” he promised. As these people lack the melanin pigmentation, which makes them become climatologically vulnerable, they are often infected with wounds and dryness of skin which if not medically attended to could develop into skin cancer. In a letter addressed to Cabinet and sent through the Prime Minister’s office, Ndinomupya said: “Skin cancer is the main life-threatening disease shortening the life of albinos. In line with the Government’s Policy on People Living with Disability, we feel it is appropriate to approach our Government … so that we can effectively address the problems affecting the people living with albinism in our country.” The letter further reads, “We recommend that the Namibian Government provides assistance to the Trust in form of N$300 000 to carry out the envisaged Education Awareness Campaign and Needs Assessment.” The association feels that albinos are ill-treated and this matter must be attended to with urgency through the initiating of funding program-mes that are aimed at fighting diseases affecting these people, such as skin cancer. Last year, Ndinomupya through the Office of the Prime Minister made a request to the Government that albinos be provided with social grants. It was agreed in principle that people with albinism be registered for this. During the scheduled regional visits, all people living with this condition would be registered and their names forwarded to the Ministry of Health and Social Services for consideration. At the end of the exercise, NAAT would like to see and ensure that all people living with albinism are accepted by society and are entitled to privileges that every Nami-bian has a right to.
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