MP seeks support to end stigma on albinos

Hon. John Majisi, Member of Parliament for the Krachie Nchumuru constituency in the Volta Region, has called on colleague parliamentarians and Ghanaians generally to help fight against stigmatisation attached to persons with albinism.

According to him, despite several human right laws against discrimination, persons with albinism are still faced with multiple forms of discrimination worldwide because of their distinctive appearance.

In a statement on the floor of parliament yesterday to observe the International Albinism Awareness Day, which is marked annually on June 13, Hon. Majisi said persons with albinism are often denied the most basic rights, such as access to education, healthcare, employment, right to political participation, social and family life, as well as freedom of movement for fear of being attacked or kill.

Albinism is a rare, genetic difference present at birth, that occurs in members of both sexes, all ethnicities and in every country in the world. Causing a lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes, people with albinism are subject to high rates of skin cancer and many are legally blind.

Reports say albinism is affecting one in 17,000 people in North America and is also said to be much more prevalent in East Africa, where it affects as many as one in 1,400 people.

Around the world, people with albinism are subject to widespread discrimination, as a 2015 report of the United Nations Human Rights Council notes that, “as of October 2014, over 340 attacks against persons with albinism, including 134 killings, have been recorded in 25 countries.”

The situation is particularly severe in parts of East Africa, where superstition fuels a lucrative trade in albino body parts, which are used in potions and amulets believed to bring good fortune.

However, Hon. Majisi said there is more discrimination beyond that and that health-wise, albinos suffer pale or fair skin, are susceptible to sunburns, skin cancer, wrinkling of the skin and chapped lips which could lead to cancer and poor vision, while persons with albinism in the education sector encounter discrimination in formal schooling and skills acquiring as their irreparable impaired vision renders them helpless to copy notes from chalkboards.

He argued that, even though existing laws guaranteed the rights of persons with albinism and disabilities in general, there is still widespread stigmatisation, and urged that parliamentarians and other stakeholders must take interest in fighting to end the situation, especially in Ghana.

“Mr. Speaker, it is noted that, local, regional and international human rights instrument emphasised the importance of human respect and dignity. Articles 26(2), 15(1) and 17(2) of Ghana’s Constitution, Article 5 of the Africa Charter on Human and People’s Rights (1981), the International Bill, the Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966).”

“ The Covenant on Economic, Social, Cultural Rights, all stress freedom and justice, respect and dignity, and well being as basic fundamental human rights for all persons irrespective of gender, race , colour , ethnic origin, religion. A person with albinism should therefore not suffer any form of discrimination,” he stated.

He explained that, it was out of that the United Nations at its general assembly instituted International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) globally on June13, every year, to increase international attention to human rights situation of “Persons with Albinism” in order to fight against global discrimination and stigma against them, among others.

Speaking about this year’s Albinism Awareness Day which was on the theme, “Advancing with Renewed Hope,” Hon Majisi called on government to intervene in the plight of persons with albinism by including sun care products, dermatological and optical services on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) drugs and services list for persons with albinism.

He said, in addition, mainstream albinism and disability issues should be discussed at all levels of the education system, printed materials in large fronts be provided and also allowing persons with albinism to sit closer to chalkboards in classrooms and be allowed extra time during examinations.

He said a reliable database of all persons with albinism in the country to ensure timely dissemination of information and continuous provision of support services to all persons with albinism and others in similar situation.

The Krachi Nchumuru MP called on parliamentarians to exercise their influence within their communities to combat prejudice and disinformation, to reach out to fellow citizens about the multiple layers of human rights challenges confronted by persons with albinism, and to become advocates for tolerance and the rule of law.

He condemned all forms of discrimination and attacks against persons with albinism, ritual killings and the trafficking in persons of the same in other parts of the world, especially in East Africa.

Hon. Majisi also called for collaboration with different stakeholders to stem the vice and urged state to institute a collaborative partnership with the civil society organisations, the private sector or other actors with the view to eliminating the stigma against persons with albinism and promoting the rights, dignity and living conditions of persons with albinism in the country.


Source: Felix Engsalige Nyaaba

The Republic News Online

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