International Albinism Awareness Day 2023

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BY ESTHER MUTURI

International Albinism Awareness Day is observed annually on the 13th of June to create awareness of Albinism and promote the rights and regulations of Persons With Albinism on a global level.

The day Is recognized to put an end to the misconceptions and stereotypes related to this disability, and also encourage the inclusion of persons with Albinism in all aspects of society without any discrimination.

Albinism is a genetic condition in which there is either less or no pigmentation in certain organs of the body like hair, eyes, and skin.

Such people lack one of the most important pigments of the body called melanin which is responsible for skin pigmentation. Besides pigmentation, melanin has several important functions like it protects the skin from harmful UV radiation.

Due to the absence of melanin, Persons with Albinism are often at a higher risk of skin cancer.

Tanzania had a lot of persons with albinism during the middle of the 2000s, in recent decades, hundreds of them have been brutally murdered and mutilated.

According to local superstitions, certain parts of the body can bring luck and prosperity. “Persons with Albinism are evil spirits” is another common myth.

The Tanzania Albinism Society (TAS) and other non-governmental organizations advocated for persons with albinism rights. They observed Albinism Day for the first time on May 4, 2006. Since then, it has been known as National Albinism Day.

In 2013, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) took on an objective called “Attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism.” Since albinism is still widely misunderstood, both socially and medically, this UN resolution called for the prevention of attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism.

Persons with albinism are frequently the target of erroneous beliefs and myths that are influenced by superstition. These misconceptions contribute to their marginalization, social exclusion, and a variety of forms of stigma and discrimination.

The theme of the current year’s celebration of International Albinism Awareness Day is “Inclusion is strength.” It emphasizes the significance of including persons with albinism of all races and ethnicities, as well as young people, women, children, and the elderly.

It also emphasizes the necessity of collaborating with other organizations, such as human rights organizations that are not directly associated with the albinism movement.

As the world marks Albinism Awareness Day, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has called for the inclusion of persons with albinism in all aspects of Kenyan society.

The Commission urged the government to promptly implement the Kenya National Action Plan on Albinism 2023-2028 as part of comprehensive measures to safeguard the rights of persons with albinism.

The Commission further called on the government to establish a task force on albinism and appoint a Special Advisor on Albinism in Kenya.

KNHCR also wants persons with albinism considered for elective seats and appointments in line with the constitution which provides that at least 5 percent of such positions be filled by persons with disabilities.

Further, KNHCR urged schools and technical institutions, through the Ministry of Education to conduct sensitization programs on albinism to foster an inclusive environment among learners.

To reduce stigma and discrimination, the commission called upon both State and non-State actors to intensify awareness creation campaigns on albinism as a form of disability.

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