Persons with Albinism in Nasarawa State have advocated the establishment of special medical centres in each state of the federation to provide care and free treatment for people affected by the condition as Nigeria joins the International community to celebrate Albinism Awareness Day.
Radio Nigeria visited some of the Albinos in their various residents in Akwanga and Lafia Local Government Areas of the state gathered and that non-availability of treatment centres in the state had exposed them to skin cancer infections and other challenges.
The Chairman, Nasarawa State Association of Persons with Albinism, Mr John Maigwa said they had been neglected to their fate for a long time as most of them could not afford to purchase soaps and other facilities that would protect their skins which had led to the untimely death of some members due to cancer.
He appealed to Nasarawa State Government to come to their aid by initiating a special scheme aimed at providing care for persons with Albinism especially the less privileged.
According Mr Maigwa, ” We faced two major challenges, the society around us finds it difficult to associate with us, people see us as ghosts while others say we are punishment from God.
“We have never received any assistance from organizations or governments, four of my members are down with skin cancer for three years now with three in critical condition. Just like others who have died due to lack of means to access treatment, these ones may eventually die unless some urgent steps are done to save their lives. They are from poor families, they hardly get three square meals in a day.”
A person with Albinism, Mr Adeh John who said he is a car painter, called for more awareness against stigmatization of persons with Albinism to enable most of them come out of life of social exclusion.
He said, they suffer rejection at motor parks, places of worship and other public gatherings just because of their physical appearance.
A parent and mother of six, Mrs Aisha Ibrahim said it took her courage and acceptance to overcome stigma and she had since decided to commit herself to building confidence and self esteem in her four kids who were born with Albinism to enable them to discover their dreams.
Another person with Albinism, Mrs Nanret Akoji who is down with skin cancer involving her right eyebrow said she travels to Abuja every month to access treatment due to non availability of chemotherapeutic drugs and other facilities in the state.
She expressed fear that the rising costs of treatment and other facilities to take care of her skin were becoming unbearable for her to afford.
A Medical Expert and Director, Public Health, Nasarawa State Ministry of Health, Dr. Ibrahim Alhassan Adamu explained that contrary to superstitious beliefs and myths about persons with Albinism, the condition is not contagious.
“He explained that Albinism is a hereditary condition which occurs due to lack of melanin in the body, a substance that is responsible for skin colour. As a result, people who are born with this condition have white skin, eye pupils, hair, and are prone to cancer infections if adequate care of their skin is not done.”
Dr. Adamu however, called on persons with Albinism to avoid exposing themselves to the sun for a long time to check for skin cancer and other infections.