Albinism is a rare condition where there is an absolute absence or very little amount of melanin in the body. It commonly results in the little or lack of melanin pigment in the hair, skin and eyes of a Person with Albinism (PWA)
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This makes them susceptible to the sun which causes skin cancer if they do not protect their skin from the rays of the sun with sunscreens and protective clothing. Albinism is purely a genetic disorder, nothing more nothing less.
Monday, June 13, 2022, is International Albinism Awareness Day 2022 to spread public education on the medical condition and inform all and sundry about its details.
In the light of that, YEN.com.gh has put together some top facts about Albinism to mark the day.
What Albinism is
Below are some truths about Albinism
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- Albinism occurs when both parents donate an Albinism gene which is passed on to their child. This is possible even if they are both dark-skinned. This is to say that, if both parents do not donate the albinism gene, it is never possible to have a child with the condition.
- Two dark-skinned partners can have a child with Albinism as far as they have the gene in them from as far back as the 5th generation.
- Dark skins might carry the Albinism gene but it doesn't make them a person living with Albinism.
- Albinism occurs worldwide irrespective of the ethnicity or gender.
- Albinism comes in two types known as Ocular Albinism and Oculocutaneous Albinism. Ocular albinism affects the eyes with minimal to no skin involvement whereas oculocutaneous albinism affects both the skin and the eyes. The skin appears whiter, hair looks golden as well as the retina of the eyes looks really light.
- Calling a Persons with Albinism(PWA) an Albino, Ofiri, Gyato , etc is perceived as derogatory by Persons living with the condition. It is preferable that they are referred to as Persons with Albinism just because it doesn't seem right calling someone by their deficiency.
What Albinism is not
Quite a number of false information have been circulated and it seems the society has embraced them. The most common of these myths are:
- “Persons with Albinism should not take salt because it causes dark spot on their skin. Wrong! Prolonged exposure of the body to the sun causes the spots.”
- “Persons with Albinism can't see in the afternoon. This is false. Their eyes are very sensitive which makes them squint when exposed to bright lights.
- Persons with Albinism are punishment from the gods. No! A child is a gift from God.
- “Persons with Albinism do not die, they just vanish. False! They are humans and die like every other human. They do not have supernatural powers to vanish. This group has been a target of abduction in line with rituals. To die naturally as a person with albinism is considered a luxury. Buried bodies of Persons. Albinists are exhumed by ritualists because they believe the body parts of persons living with Albinism can make them rich.
- Albinism is not contagious. You cannot get “infected with” Albinism by staying close to a person with Albinism, doing business with them, or rubbing the stomach of a pregnant woman.
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It is important that society stops the discrimination but keep learning about the condition and share it with family and friends. People must treat persons with Albinism the way they want to be treated.
Persons with Albinism do not need to be pitied, they need to be understood and loved.
Happy International Albinism Awareness Day!
Ghanaian nurse living with vitiligo
Away from Albinism, a beautiful Ghanaian nurse by name Enam Honya Heikeens has had her beautiful black skin taken over by a skin condition called vitiligo which started when she was only seven.
In an interview with YEN.com.gh, Enam, who is also the director for Vitiligo Ghana Foundation, indicates that she now helps people to also fight against the stigma that people suffer due to their condition, mentioning that it has not been an easy journey at all.
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