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Albino Foundation to build capacity of persons with Albinism

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The Albino Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation, on Wednesday said it would build the capacity of persons with albinism in commemoration of the 2019 International Albinism Awareness Day celebration.

Mr Jake Epelle, Founder, The Albino Foundation, disclosed this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

Epelle said the International Albinism Awareness Day celebration in Nigeria was commemorated annually on June 13, to improve the awareness and response to challenges of persons with albinism and their families.

He said the 2019 event which has its theme as: `Still Standing Strong, Advancing the Albinism Cause’ would build the capacity of persons with albinism to enable them believe in themselves and become better persons in the society.

Epelle added that the event would showcase the beauty of albinism and persons with disabilities through fashion, art and photography through which the vision was borne.

“The International Albinism Awareness Day celebration is to draw attention to the state and members of the public on issues and challenges faced by persons with albinism and the albinism community all over the world.

“The conference intends to enlighten and educate persons with albinism and their families, especially mothers of children with albinism, on ways of managing the health and social challenges associated with it.

“The National conference will also empower participants at the programme with information on reducing blindness and severe visual impairment, as well as latest innovations in eye care management for low vision persons,’’ Epelle said.

He listed other empowerment programmes to include: Practical steps in managing persons with albinism within the classroom, and preventing skin cancer among persons with albinism.

Others are: self-esteem, as a means of curbing stigma and discrimination, entrepreneurial skills as a tool for reducing poverty, and effective leadership as a tool for promoting an inclusive society.

Epelle explained that the Day was established following the United Nations General Assembly’s proclamation on Nov. 14, 2014 that June 13, every year, should be celebrated as International Albinism Awareness Day.

He noted that the declaration was as a result of widespread discrimination, stigmatization, dehumanization and killings of persons with albinism around the world, especially in Africa.

Epelle further listed programmes at the event to include: life experience sharing, poetic recitations, free medical eye and skin tests, video documentaries, photography and art pieces designed by Persons with Albinism.

 

Health

No scientific backing for albinos not to eat salt, dermatologist claims

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Dr Omotoyosi Ilesanmi, a dermatologist at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, claims that there is no scientific evidence to prove that the albino must not consume salt.

Ilesanmi told Nigeria News Agency on Tuesday in Ilorin that the belief that consumption of salt was dangerous for the albino was myth and erroneous belief.

“I am aware that people say albinos should not consume salt, but there is nothing to prove it scientifically.

“There is no correlation between salt consumption by the albino and negative effect on them or their skin,” she said.

The dermatologist said the idea that consumption of salt by people with albinism was the cause of the burns they got on their skin was a myth.

She said that the only reason why people living with albinism would have skin burn was because of exposure to the sun.

Ilesanmi said that medically, there was nothing wrong with the consumption of salt by persons living with albinism.

She said salt consumption had become imperative for them because it was a very important dietary requirement and a person deficient in salt could end up with iodine deficiency that could cause goitre or hyponatremia — a condition characterised by low levels of sodium in the blood.

Ilesanmi explained that people with albinism were encouraged to have a balanced diet with salt as an additive to cooked meals.

The consultant dermatologist refuted the belief that albinism was a curse, saying it was purely a genetic disorder.

Ilesanmi noted that albinism was a congenital disorder due to lack of melanin in the skin, eyes and hair and those with no melanin were called the albino while those with little melanin were called the albinoid.

Ilesanmi said that albinism occurred when the enzyme known as thyroxin was not found in an individual which made melanin not to be produced.

”It is an hypopigmentary disorder which is genetically inherited and it is due to lack of melanin in the skin because of some biochemical defects.

”Normally, the enzyme known as thyroxin with subsequent bio chemical reactions, forms melanin which is the pigment producing cells which is the pigment cell in the skin.

”When this biochemical reactions are stopped because thyroxins are not produced, and is not found in that individual, then melanin is not produced, this is the reason why they have white skin.

”They have melanocites but they are not able to produce melanin, which means many of them are thyroxinate deficient,” she said.

Ilesanmi said as at now there was no cure for albinism, but treatment included use of sunglasses to protect the eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays could relieve symptoms and prevent sun damage.

She added that skin care and prevention of skin cancer was also part of the treatment and it  included annual skin assessment to screen for skin cancer or lesions that could lead to cancer.

NAN reports that there are different

types of albinism, but the term typically refers to two — oculocutaneous albinism and ocular albinism.

There are three types of oculocutaneous which are referred to as Type 1, Type 2 and OCA Type 3.

Edited By: Hawa Lawal/Kayode Olaitan
(NAN)

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Metro

Albino foundation seeks FG’s collaboration on out-of-school children

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The Albino Foundation is seeking the collaboration of the Federal Government to establish the accurate data of out-of-school children in the country.

 

Mr Jake Ekpele, President of the foundation stated this on Wednesday when he led its execuitve on a working visit to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry Education, Mr Sonny Echono in Abuja.

 

Ekpele noted that ascertaining the exact number of children would help government and relevant stakeholders design strategies to eradicate the problem to manageable proportion.

 

He said that the foundation has the capacity to bring out the accurate data of out-of-school children in the affected states in less than three months if given the opportunity.

 

Responding, the Permanent Secretary, Sonny Echono acknowledged the foundation’s effort in partnering with government to win the war on out-of-school children.

 

The Permanent Secretary emphasised the importance of funding in performing such data collection, adding that the ministry was constrained by inadequate budgetary allocations to implement a complete census.

 

Echono urged the leadership to send in the foundation proposals for harmonisation with other stakeholders who have also shown interest in partnership.

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey and Isaac Ukpoju

 

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Foreign

Zambian govt. condemns increased attacks on albinos

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The Zambian Government on Thursday expressed concern over the increased attacks on people with albinism following two attacks this week.

On Wednesday, a seven-year-old albino girl had part of her hand chopped off by an unknown person, who raided her parent’s house on the outskirts of Kitwe city on the Copperbelt Province.

The incident happened barely a day after a 39-year-old albino man was stabbed to death in eastern Zambia’s Nyimba district when the assailants attacked him while he was sleeping in his grass-thatched house.

Chief Government Spokespersons, Dora Siliya, said the act of attacking people with albinism was inhuman and intolerable which will not go unpunished.

“This level of barbarism is incompatible with our status as a Christian nation which espouses love for one another.

“ It is, therefore, inconceivable that men can attack a defenceless girl in that manner,’’ she said in a release.

She warned perpetrators of the barbaric acts that the law would not spare them.

According to her, the government may consider providing a legal framework to ban harmful practices by some traditional doctors.

She added that some of the traditional doctors, who are believed to encourage attacks on people with albinism, with the notion that their body parts could bring good luck and wealth. (Xinhua/NAN)

HS/AIB

Edited by Halima Sheji/Abdulfatah Babatunde

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Foreign

4 Tanzanians jailed for life over chopping off arm of an albino

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A Tanzanian court on Wednesday sentenced four people to life imprisonment after they were convicted of chopping off the arm of a person with albinism.

Judge Richard Mashauri of the Tanzania High Court in Sumbawanga in the southern highlands the four had intended to sell the arm to a witch doctor.

The cutting of limbs of albinos and the killings of them in the east African nation have been driven by the belief advanced by some witch doctors that the body parts of people with albinism have properties that confer wealth and good luck.

The four culprits, who committed the crime on May 14, 2015, are all residents of Mamba ward in Mlele district.

State Attorneys Simon Peres and Dickson Makoro, for the prosecution, had told the court that the convicts had raided a house of a person with albinism to kill him but they ended up chopping off his arm.

“After they had chopped off the victim’s arm they went to sell it to a witch doctor for 6 million Tanzanian shillings (about 2,607 dollars),” Peres had told the court.

In November 2017, Tanzania’s Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) said at least 34 people had been convicted of killing people with albinism in the country and sentenced to death by hanging during the period from 2006 to 2016.

Several other cases of people accused of killing people with albinism are still pending in courts throughout the country, Beatrice Mpembo, a State Attorney from the DPP told a two-day consultative meeting to strategize on countering brutality and killings of people with albinism.

Some of the people living with albinism have been victims of violence and some of them killed or became disabled due to their body parts being chopped off.

Most of the victims are found in mining areas that attract influx of people from other parts of Tanzania and outside the country with diverse cultural backgrounds.

Some of these people believed that in order to be rich through mining activities, blood from people with albinism and their body parts must be obtained.

It is also believed that the body parts of people with albinism have magical powers capable of bringing riches if produced by local witch doctors and used as medicine. (Xinhua/NAN)


FAT/AFA

Edited by Fatima Sule/Felix Ajide

 

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Health

World Sight Day: Albinos call for implementation of National Eye Policy

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People living with Albinism have appealed to Federal Government for  full implementation of National Eye Policy to improve access to eye health services in the country.

Mr Afam Kasim, the Head of Media and Communication of Albino Foundation made the appeal during a news conference as part of activities to commemorate the 2019 World Sight Day on Thursday in Abuja.

The Day has “Vision First” as its theme for 2019.

World Sight Day is observed annually on the second Thursday of October. It is a global event to draw attention to causes of blindness and vision impairment, as well as raise awareness on ways to avoid the disease.

Kasim also appealed to Federal Government to improve eye health services in medical facilities across the country to encourage persons with albinism to attend school.

He urged government to provide waiver for persons with the condition and other visually impaired persons to enable them to access vision aids at an affordable rate.

He noted that as someone living with Albinism who went to school especially primary and secondary school, vision is a challenge; no matter where you sit in the classroom.

He added that majority of persons with albinism were not in school today because of vision problem.

Meanwhile, Dr Okolo Ateri, the National Coordinator, National Eye Health Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, said that the Federal Government was discussing with pharmaceutical companies to reduce the cost of glaucoma medication.

The national coordinator said “glaucoma is the second commonest cause of irreversible blindness and accounts for about 16.7 per cent blindness in the country.”

She added that Nigerians were susceptible to glaucoma and that glaucoma was one of the risk factors of blindness among the black race.

She also disclosed that the National Eye Health Policy would focus on integrating eye health care into the primary health care centres, noting that the Primary Health Care (PHC) was the foundation for delivery of Universal Health Coverage services.

She explained that the Ministry of Health would soon domesticate World Health Organisation’s (WHO) policy on eye healthto enhance access to eye health care services in the country.

She noted that “beyond treating eye conditions, we want promote eye care and establish prevention and that basically happens at the primary level.”

The ministry was also working to boost blindness prevention and to reduce the high number of the condition in the country.

She, therefore, urged Nigerians to go for routine eye check at least once a year to address the challenge.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the theme of the 2019 world sight day — “Vision First” was a call to action, which was related to WHO global plan 2014-2019, emphasising universal eye health.

He said that the theme was also a call to ensure that everyone everywhere had access to preventive, curative and rehabilitative eye health services at cost that did not further impoverish him or her.

The minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Abdullahi Mashi, said that Nigeria had been working with partners to raise awareness on the causes of avoidable blindness and its solutions.

He added that the ministry, with support from partners, was doing a lot to reduce the backlog of cataract cases in the country.

He reiterated the commitment of Federal Government to reduce vision impairment by 25 per cent in the year 2020. (NAN)

AM/HA

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

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Health

Experiences of persons living with albinism pathetic – Albino Foundation

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Bassey Mbang, Cross River Coordinator, The Albino Foundation (TAF), says the experiences of persons living with albinism in the state are pathetic.

Mbang, a pastor, made this known on Thursday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Calabar while commemorating the International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD).

IAAD is commemorated annually on June 13 to celebrate the rights of persons with albinism worldwide.

The theme of the 2019 commemoration is:  “Still Standing Strong, Advancing the Albinism Cause’’.

Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited difference present at birth.

It results in lack of pigmentation (melanin) in the hairs, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to the sun and bright light.

Mbang said every effort to get stakeholders in the state to pay attention to the needs of persons living with albinism had not yielded any result.

He said, apart from Brien Holden Vision Institute, that supported the foundation with glasses, especially for children, no other organisation had partnered with persons with albinism in Cross River.

“Persons living with albinism are like endangered species in this part of our world in the sense that the sun has been our enemy.

“We need people that will partner with `The Albino Foundation’ to donate sun screens, so that, persons with the condition can walk in the sun without being burnt and low vision devises like sun shades and reading glasses for better vision.

“Also, people need to be aware that the killing of persons with albinism is not peculiar to Eastern Africa; it is also here with us.

“I was kidnapped in 2010 for ritual but God intervened and I was saved.

“These are areas where we need different organisations to partner with us,’’ he said.

According to Mbang, due to the peculiarity of Cross River, in terms of landmass and hard-to-reach areas, it has been quite difficult to reach all persons living with albinism in rural communities in the state.

“When we visited Boki Local Government Area (LGA), I had to go to 39 villages in the Eastern flank of Boki to reach out to persons with albinism. We have not been able to cover the whole Local Government Area.

“In Boki, we saw three persons with skin cancer and many others have  burnt skin due to their exposure to sun; not to talk of other LGAs in the state.

“Many of the persons living with the condition in the rural areas don’t even know the things that are hazardous to them but with our conversations with them when we visit, we get them aware,’’ he said

Mbang said that the theme for this year’s celebration was important because with the constant rejection, stigmatisation and all the other challenges, persons living with the condition were still standing strong.

He, however, called on the society to accept people living with albinism by shunning all forms of myths about their existence.

Mbang appealed to government and corporate organisations to give persons with albinism the opportunities to excel and contribute to the development of the society.

He urged persons living with the condition not to give up or slip into withdrawal syndrome.

 

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Foreign

Malawi gives albino citizens personal ’emergency alarms’

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Albino

Blantyre, May 3, 2019 The Malawian Government is handing out 1,600 personal security alarms to its albino citizens, in an attempt to stop deadly attacks on the community.

“The gadgets will be distributed to persons with albinism in all the regions in Malawi,’’ Cecilia Chazama, Minister for Gender, Children and Disability, said on Friday.

Albinos are targeted in Malawi and some other African countries because of the superstitious belief that their body parts are magic and can make people rich.

Francis Masambuka, an albino activist, welcomed the project but stressed that it wasn’t a cure-all solution to attacks on people with the condition, which causes lack of skin pigmentation.

“The gadgets are connected to the network of nearest police stations and once a person with albinism is under threat, they can press it and the police can rush to the scene,’’ he said.

No fewer than 24 people with albinism have been killed and 160 attacks reported to police since 2014, according to figures from the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi.

The emergency buttons which will be distributed on Saturday are being introduced amid continued attacks.

“Since December, 2018, one man has been reported killed and two children abducted.

In spite of the Malawian government’s promise to tackle the problem, few suspected of crimes against albinos are successfully prosecuted in court,” rights groups say.

Edited By: Abigael Joshua and Olisa Ifeajika

 

 

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General news

Our electoral demands not met by INEC- Albino Foundation

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Demands

 

The Albino Foundation (TAF), on Saturday expressed concern that most of its demands from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the March 9 elections were not met by the electoral umpire.

Mr Jake Epelle, Founder of TAF, made the remark in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

Epelle, who is also an accredited observer of the European Union (EU) Intervention in Disability Matters described the situation as “appalling.’’

“The situation is appalling. Unfortunately, a lot of work and inputs that we made in the electoral process, especially within the INEC framework are not receiving implementation at all.

“I wouldn’t even say adequate implementation; it is almost near zero implementation because we still didn’t see magnified glasses which INEC promised.

“We didn’t see Braille. Many of the INEC staff still struggle with information about disability,’’ he said.

Epelle, also expressed dissatisfaction over low turnout of persons with disability in the polls.

He also attributed the trend to the crisis in the Feb. 23, elections and some levels of unpreparedness by the commission.

“And those things are showing up now. The enthusiasm we saw in the past presidential election had really died down.

“I think it should be a serious concern to INEC management.

He said that the implication of the low turnout was that a lot of eligible voters would be disenfranchised.

“And I am wondering if those that will be elected by this very minute turnout will really have the true mandate of the people. That’s a huge concern.

“When you don’t have the majority to put you in position, you just go there; you are on your own or by a few people who just push you in there. It’s a major problem.

Epelle, said that his foundation had deployed about 60 observers for the elections, stressing that there was the need to learn from the present experience in order to guard against re-occurrence.

 

 

 

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Agriculture

Malawi offers $7,000 reward to stop albino killings

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Malawi offers $7,000 reward to stop albino killings
Albino
Blantyre, March 1, 2019 (Reuters/NNN) Malawian Government has offered cash rewards of 7,000 dollars for information about abductions and killing of people with albinism as anger over government inaction grew ahead of national elections.
Belief in witchcraft is widespread in rural Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, fuelling ritual killings particularly targeting people with albinism because of the belief that their body parts can increase wealth.
The renewed focus on albino murders comes after the New Year’s Day killing of Yasin Phiri in the presence of his young son.
Local media said the man’s arms were hacked off, his teeth pulled and his private parts removed, prompting calls by local and international civil society groups for government action.
“Government will reward K5 million to anyone providing information that is proven to be credible relating to any conspiracy to abduct or kill persons with albinism,” President Peter Mutharika’s office said in a statement.
The presidency will also form a judicial inquiry into the killings and abductions, which the UN says have reached 150 since 2014.
Malawians are set to go to the polls in May to elect a president, a parliament and ward councilors.
Some of the campaigning has highlighted the attacks of people born with the genetic condition, which inhibits a person’s ability to produce the melanin responsible for skin pigmentation.
The main opposition party, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), said the president’s announcement was a “political maneuver” aimed at garnering votes.
The superstitions, stigmas and maiming and killing of people with albinism are visible across some southern and East African countries with cases reported in Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa.
“There is also a lucrative market for the trade in albino body parts in the region and internationally, with individual parts fetching up to 2,000 dollars.
“And also an entire corpse can fetch as much as 75,000 dollars,’’ according to a report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
“Police are failing to uncover the syndicate behind the killings.
“Malawians are wondering why government is frustrating efforts to deal with the albino killings,” civil society group Malawi Human Rights Defenders said in a statement.
In 2017, the UN pulled staff out of two districts in southern Malawi where a vampire scare triggered mob violence in which at least five people were killed. (Reuters/NNN)
FAT/EMO

Edited by Fatima Sule/Ejike Obeta

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