Ghana Albinism Community appeals for Government Attention

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The albinism community in Ghana has appealed to the government to pay particular attention to the needs of persons with albinism in the country.

Persons with albinism, face multiples of discrimination and human rights abuses, coupled with a number of health challenges that come with the condition, like low vision and susceptibility to skin cancer, among others.

There are currently no clear cut policies and programmes seeking to ensure that persons with albinism have access to adequate health care, employment, education, justice and social protection.

Consequently, their right to education, for instance, is affected by the low vision, that in most cases forces some of them to drop out of school, which eventually lead to unemployment and affects their right to adequate standard of living.

An albinism advocacy organization, Engage Now Africa (ENA) and Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism (GAPA) said, to overcome the numerous challenges facing it’s members, it would require extra attention and commitment from government to enable them enjoy life to the fullest.

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They called for Inclusion of sun care products, dermatological and optical services on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) drugs and services list for Persons with Albinism.

According to them, “there are over 2,571 registered persons with albinism in the country and many of them are economically marginalized and cannot afford sun care products and the many other needs that come with the condition”.

The Executive Director of the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism, Mr. Newton Katseku made the appeal on Saturday, June 12, 2021, when the association in collaboration with an albinism advocacy organization, ENGAGE NOW AFRICA, held a press conference to mark this year’s International Albinism Awareness Day.

Mr. Katseku added that, “Government needs to mainstream albinism and disability issues in all levels of the educational system. Some textbooks should be printed in large fonts and persons with albinism allowed to sit closer to chalkboards in classrooms. Also, students with albinism should be allowed some extra time during examinations and also to allocate enough resources to effectively implement the inclusive education policy. This will create opportunity for persons with disabilities to have better education”.

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He also called for support for the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism and Engage Now Africa to get a reliable and accurate database of all persons with albinism in the country. That, he said, would ensure timely dissemination of information and continuous provision of support services to all persons with albinism.

The Executive Director also appealed to President Akufo-Addo to ratify the African Disability Protocol, which seeks to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities.

“We again call on the ministry of gender children and social protection in collaboration with National Council on Persons with Disability, to fully domesticate and ensure the full implementation of the regional action plan on albinism in Africa, which was adopted by the African Union for the enjoyment of the rights of persons with albinism”, he added.

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One of the major problems of the association is the practice in some communities in Ghana, where persons with albinism are banished on the basis of cultural beliefs about albinism.

Mr. Katseku, touching on the matter, also called on the ministry of chieftaincy and culture to call for inter-ministerial dialogue with relevant institutions and the national house of chiefs to end the practice.

The International Albinism Awareness Day is a global event adopted by the United Nations, with the aim to increasing international attention on the human rights situation of persons with albinism, and to recognize the importance of increasing awareness and understanding of albinism in order to fight against global discrimination and stigma against persons with albinism.

It is also to encourage Member States to continue their efforts to protect and preserve the rights to life and security of persons with albinism and to promote the right not to be subject to torture and ill-treatment of persons with albinism, and to celebrate the struggle, achievements and contributions of persons with albinism worldwide.

This year’s celebration which was the 7th edition, was on the theme, Strength beyond all odds.

Despite the obstacles to well-being and security of persons with albinism, individual persons with albinism and leaders of organizations representing persons with albinism continue to work hard to support the most vulnerable to achieve their dreams and ambitions. The theme was, therefore, to celebrate how persons with albinism worldwide meet and exceed expectations in all domains of life and encourage everyone during this time of a global pandemic to join the global effort to support the advocacy towards inclusive development

Sponsor of the press conference, Engage Now Africa (ENA), has been supporting persons with albinism in Ghana in various ways, including holding educational programmes, provision of sun care products, supporting the treatment of skin cancer in persons with albinism, economic support, among others.

They also under take other humanitarian services such as adult literacy training programme and anti human trafficking activities.

The head of education at ENA, Mr. Francis Yaw Ansah, admonished the public to desist from maltreating persons with albinism.

He said, living with the condition alone is enough challenge and the negative attitude of society towards them makes their trouble double. He, therefore, urged the public to be endeavour to make life comfortable for persons with albinism and people with other disabilities.

Mr. Ansah also spoke about a local sun cream production the organization has started to help persons with albinism in the country.

By Benjamin Nii-Lartey Ayiku || 


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