The Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) has urged the establishment of a local manufacturing company for sunscreen lotion which is used by persons with albinism to protect them from direct sunlight which causes skin infection such as cancer.
People with albinism are at risk of skin cancer due to inadequate protection from the sun rays.
Albinism is a hereditary condition which causes a complete or partial lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. When exposed to sunlight, the lack of melanin in the skin of an albino means they are not protected from the sun’s ultra violet rays, they do not tan but burn, and there is a greater risk of skin cancer.
For years APAM has been advocating for free provision of the sunscreen lotion to persons with albinism in all public health facilities country wide.
In an interview, APAM country coordinator, Boniface Masa said his organization’s efforts to lobby for the free distribution of the lotion in public hospitals has been a success but inadequate supply of the same has affected the activity.
Said Masa, “We still have a lot of challenges, from the monitoring visit we did on access to sunscreen lotion. Availability of sunscreen lotion is still centralized either at central hospitals which are the referral hospitals and district hospitals thereby not reaching out to the vulnerable groups in the health centers.
The other challenge is that we people with albinism need to use sunscreen lotion everyday for the rest of our life. It is like an assistive device, it is not luxury like people use any lotion so we need large quantities of the lotion that must be available throughout the year.”
He added that sometimes sunscreen lotion is available in the hospitals after being procured from the Central Medical Stores and at times it is not available creating a gap.
According to Masa the intermittent supply of the lotion creates space for skin diseases to find their way in and affect people with albinism.
“Our plan moving forward which we are already discussing with the ministry of health who have shown serious commitment is to ensure that we work around establishing a local production unit that will ensure that the lotion is available throughout the year for the safety of lives of people with albinism in Malawi.” Masa said.
He went on further to say having the sunscreen lotion manufactured in the country will also have a very big component around the reception of the same among persons with albinism in terms of sticking to the compliance of using the lotion.
Masa added that the move will also help in the civic education of members on how to use the lotion and also ensuring that they apply it correctly.
The APAM country coordinator said his organization is working hard to engage the ministry of health to make sure that the plan is implemented.
Since 2014, people with albinism have been targeted after some people were meant to believe that their body parts mixed with charm had the power to invoke wealth.
According to APAM 129 cases of attacks on persons with albinism among them 21 murder cases have been reported in the country since then.
Apart from the ritual attacks and killings, the vulnerable group of people has not been spared with the harsh sunlight; bringing skin cancer which has also caused death among them.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :