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Albinism community seek FGs reinstatement of free skin cancer treatment

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By FOLASADE AKPAN

Abuja- The Albinism Association of Nigeria (AAN), on Thursday in Abuja appealed to the Federal Government to reinstate the free skin cancer intervention programme which Persons With Albinism (PWA) enjoyed in the past.

President of the Association, Mr Jake Epelle, made the appeal at a news conference to commemorate the 2022 National Albinism Day.

The Day, a national observance day is commemorated every year in Nigeria on May 5 to highlight and solve the issues of PWA.

This year’s celebration has “Save Our Souls from Skin Cancer – Patients with Albinism’’ as its theme.

Epelle said that in 2007, PWA initiated a Public-Private Partnership with the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration at the National Hospital and at other designated state and private hospitals.

According to him, more than 5,000 PWA got treated as a result of the intervention, but it was discontinued thereafter.

The association’s president said that the ravaging effect of skin cancer was killing PWA and something had to be done to contain it.

“We are using this opportunity and platform to urge the Federal Government to reinstate the free treatment that had been going on which the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo started.

“The intervention continued through the administration of late President Musa Yar’adua. It was first bank-rolled in 2013 by the Federal Ministry of Finance Service-Wide vote.

“The arrangement had earmarked and spent N17.8 million alongside other useful resources on this effort.

“The preceding government took it upon themselves to continue the process.

“The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari initially implemented the free skin cancer programme, but it was truncated and the reason given was because of paucity of funds,’’ he said.

Epelle also appealed to the Federal Government to include skin cancer care to the scope of the Cancer Health Fund initiative which catered only to breast, cervical and prostate cancers.

He said that this was because special attention should be given to PWAs who were suffering from one or more forms of cancers as a result of their condition.

He also advocated for the flag-off of the Sun-Protection Campaign, a policy framework targeted at increased advocacy that might be led by the Ministry of Health to create awareness for PWA.

Epelle noted that JAMB had made the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination disability-inclusive.

According to him, this means that Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), a group to which PWA are part of, now have an extended examination time and arrangement for those of them writing the examinations.

“JAMB has made provision for PWA because of our visual impairment.

“If you are a PWA and you are taking JAMB this weekend, go to the invigilator and let the person know that you are a PWA.

“That way, you can enjoy special time,’’ he advised.

Epelle also said that efforts were on to ensure that the forthcoming national census would recognise PWA and PWD to have an accurate data base. (NAN)

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