23 August 2017

Malawi: People With Albinism Need More Attention

Zomba — The Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) has called for the need to provide support and attention towards people with albinism living in rural areas.

APAM Senior Executive Council member, Ian Simbota said people with albinism living in rural areas face a lot of challenges in their day to day lives.

He made the remarks Tuesday in Zomba during an albinism awareness campaign organized by a dermatologist from Netherlands which took place at Zomba Nursing School.

Simbota said, "People with albinism have difficulties to come in town for skin screening and other medication since the distance they cover to reach district hospitals are very long."

"Most of the times they give up and as a result this leads to the development of skin cancer and other skin diseases," he added.

Simbota urged District Health Offices (DHO) in the country to start budgeting for such people in terms of sun glasses and skin lotions.

He said most DHOs do not budget for people with albinism which forces them to travel long distances to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital for treatment which is viewed as an expensive undertaking.

"Let me ask DHOs in the country to start involving us in their budgets through purchasing of skin lotions, sun glasses and other medication so that treatment is available within the district," Simbota emphasised.

Senior Dermatology Officer for Zomba Central Hospital, Fredrick Mtoto pointed out the need to provide the necessary support to people with albinism in Malawi.

"People with Albinism in the country need more attention to prevent them from developing skin cancer and sight problems. The support should be in form of transportation to access medication and provision of skin lotions and sun glasses," he said.

A consultant dermatologist from Erasmus University Hospital in Netherlands, Dr. Colette Van Hees said after working for 15 years in Malawi, she has noticed that people with albinism come with different problems to hospitals.

She said such problems can be prevented if they were supported with resources so that they can access medication from nearby district hospital.

Van Hees said the awareness campaign was aimed at making them know referral hospitals for their problems to reduce some effects experienced in the absence of medication.

During the awareness, people with albinism received assistance from Van Hees in terms of skin screening, skin lotions and sun glasses.

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