CCJP decries slow progress in protecting persons with albinism

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has decried the sluggish progress Malawi is making towards respecting and protecting health rights for persons with albinism (PWA) community.

Speaking on Thursday during the national health advocacy and lobbying meeting on the rights to health for PWA in Lilongwe, CCJP national coordinator Boniface Chibwana observed that the country still has an uphill task to climb in achieving equal rights for all, including PWAs.

Chibwana said the PWA community has, for quite some time, failed to access healthcare services like any other citizen because most people who are supposed to provide such services are not even aware of the rights that these people require, including sexual and reproductive health.

Chibwana–Malawi is not doing enough to protect persons with albinism–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

“It is for this that the conference was organized so that it can bring together various ministries to brainstorm and find solutions on how best health rights of people with albinism can be protected. We want stakeholders that are here to work together with duty bearers such as the ministry of health, local government and other stakeholders in the health governance sector to put some pressure so that such services are provided to these people,” he said.

However, Chibwana commended the government for allocating K400 million in the 2021/22 national budget towards the National Action Plan for people with albinism.

But he was quick to point out that there is a need for accountability in its implementation. He there is a need for people with albinism themselves to be equipped so that they are self-advocates, capacitate the health workers in the health centres to avoid discriminating people with albinism as well provide security to these people so that they are able to move freely when going to access health services.

Joel Chisite – Assistant Director of Clinical Services in the Ministry of Health responsible for Medical Rehabilitation – said the ministry will abide by the national action plan in the implementation of its programmes to ensure transparency and accountability are achieved.

Amongst the major highlights in the action plan of 2018-2022 which is being used, is that the government should support the local production of sunscreen lotion in Malawi.

“Soon there will be a production plant that will be producing sunscreen lotion that will be readily available for people with albinism in Malawi,” said Chisite, adding that sunscreen lotion is essential for persons with albinism as it protects from direct sunlight.

In his remarks, the Association for Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) executive member Bennet Phunyanya said that persons with albinism die before they reach the age of 40 in Africa.

Phunyanya therefore commended the government for showing compassion for them by allocating K400 million towards the implementation of the national action plan.

“Of course, we are yet to see if the money is going to be channelled to right direction,” he said.

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