By CHRISTIAN NJOKU
CALABAR- Mr Jake Epelle, the National President of the Albinism Association of Nigeria (AAN) on Tuesday appealed to the Federal and State Governments for skin cancer intervention programme for Persons With Albinism (PWA).
Epelle made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar.
He also called on well meaning Nigerians and corporate organisations to assist the PWA.
The president said that the ravaging effect of skin cancer was killing PWA and something had to be done to contain it.
The president said the response for care of persons with the condition has not been very encouraging over the years even though they have been very civil in the pursuit of the agreement the Federal Government had with them.
“Our needs are not more than the needs of others. These include free treatment of skin cancer, good education, social and financial inclusion.
”There is the challenge of stigmatization, discrimination, abuse, dehumanisation. Sunburn is one of the most serious complications because it can increase the risk of developing skin cancer”,he said.
On his part, Mr Bassey Mbang, Cross River Coordinator of the association said the PWA’s voices in the state has been very low because they are hardly recognised.
Mbang said no one wants to look at the challenges of persons with the condition, thus making life difficult for them and exposing them to the risk of skin cancer.
“In Cross River we have about 800 persons with albinism scattered all over the state and the challenge is gathering everyone together because it is capital intensive.
“So, because of lack of unity, we cannot create the needed awareness for people with albinism to help them know how to manage the condition.
“Right now, we have nine persons suffering from skin cancer, so, we are using this opportunity to advocate that the cancer treatment programme by the Federal Government for persons with albinism be revived.
“We are also appealing to individuals and corporate organisations to assist us, the assistance must not be in cash, we need sun shades, umbrellas and awareness campaign,” he noted
NAN reports that albinism is a genetic disorder that results in decreased production of a pigment called melanin in the skin, hair and eyes resulting in light colour or no colour.
Melanin normally protects the skin from damage due to ultraviolet radiation exposure.
People with albinism are more sensitive to sun exposure; they also have an increased risk of developing skin cancer as early as the teenage years.
Available data show that in sub-Saharan Africa, albinism affects one in every 2,000 to 5,000, people, while among some groups, the rate is as high as one in 1,000 people. (NAN)