The albino community in Uganda have appealed to government for support and the granting of waivers on essential drugs and cosmetics they use daily to keep healthy.
Speaking at the World’s first ever International Albinism Awareness Day, June 13th 2015 at the National Museum in Kampala, Olive Namutebi the Executive Director of the African Albino Foundation Uganda said the albinos are struggling to fit in a society that practices discrimination against them.
“Many women who give birth to children with albinism struggle on as single mothers. Most men tend to deny responsibility after their wives deliver albino babies. It is only a few fathers who take up their responsibility,” Namutebi lamented.
She also appealed to government to zero rate taxes on sunscreen cosmetics that are essential for protection against the sun rays by albinos.
“Protection from the rays of the sun is the best health care for albinos. But the sunscreens are very expensive for us and many cannot afford. We urge government to de-classify these products from the general cosmetics lists,” she added.
Ms. Namutebi called on the government to help them be identified and protected as any other Ugandans. They also need representation at all levels of leadership. “We also need a Member of Parliament, a doctor, a headmaster.”
Justus Nayebale, a member of the Africa Albino Foundation Uganda explained said albinos have been classified as ghosts by some communities yet they are capable of doing anything other human beings do.
“Children born with albinism are faced with problems such as bullying, prejudice and even violence because of the stereotypes based on the color of their skin. In Tanzania, albinos most especially children are being murdered, mutilated and their body parts used for ritual purposes. We need protection,” he told delegates at the meeting.
The albino community also urged the Ministry of Education to consider issuing directives to all schools to allow children with albinism have seats at the front of classrooms since they are visually impaired.
The Speaker of Parliament Rt.Hon. Rebecca Kadaga who officiated at the ceremony hailed the Albino Association for the campaign against discrimination.
“There are many children with albinism living in isolation in the villages across the country. Advocacy and community outreach clinics are essential to help educate communities on the rights and needs of the albinos,” the Speaker said.
She reaffirmed the support of Parliament through legislation that will help protect the albinos against discrimination.
“I think it is time to have a specific law on the protection of albinos. They are at a very high risk especially in Tanzania and need to be protected,” she added.
The United Nations Human Rights Commission in a statement presented at the meeting called upon states to step up education to counteract ignorance about albinism, and to provide appropriate care.
States were implored to investigate cases of discrimination and enforce the law to protect albinos. A UN Independent expert will be appointed soon to give an international voice to the concerns of the people with albinism.