On the 25th of June 2022, Vitiligo Association of Uganda (VAU) will for the first time join the rest of the world to celebrate the ‘World Vitiligo Day’.
World Vitiligo Day was established in 2011. Since then, each year, patients, doctors, their families and more lately, industry sponsors gather in different parts of the world to mark this day – to increase awareness, dismiss the myths and change the landscape of vitiligo advocacy and research globally.
Speaking to our reporter, Vivian Najjuka, the Chairperson, Vitiligo Association of Uganda said even though this day has been celebrated across the globe every year since 2011, this is going to be the first time Uganda is marking the day.
‘’ We are determined that all People Living with Vitiligo in the country and the general public will be joining the rest of the world to mark this day. Prior to this day, VAU has intensified advocacy for increased representation of women with Vitiligo in decision-making processes related to national gender-based violence programs and policies among other initiatives’’, said Najjuka.
Najjuka added that to mark the world vitiligo day, the association will address Media on the issues affecting them before matching from Bukoto Central Park, old Kira road to Acacia Avenue via kira Road and then return to Bukoto where members of the association shall hold a function on the same.
‘’The major goal of this celebration is to raise our voices to the entire public to ‘recognize and empower PLWV in order to end the stigma and wrong myth or beliefs associated with the Vitiligo condition also commonly referred to as “okwokebwa abalongo” or “burnt by twins”, she added.
World Vitiligo Day initiatives aim to generate awareness of vitiligo, its appropriate care and treatment methods amongst the general public, health care providers, and to raise funds needed for research, mass sensitization and advocacy.
Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder which affects the immune system which then affects the skin, resulting in white patches.
According to the Global Vitiligo Foundation, about 70 million people across the world have vitiligo.
There are no boundaries of race, ethnicity or gender, anyone children and adults representing all ethnicities can get vitiligo at any time.
Information from the Global Vitiligo Foundation indicates that about 20-35% of patients are children and early 1% of the population is affected.
Vitiligo is not contagious and is difficult to hide. This disease is misunderstood and the isolation people with vitiligo feel can be crippling.
Psychologically devastating, many patients feel isolated and devastated by its impact on their relationships and personal and professional lives.
Other challenges faced by PLWV include very little research funding to better understand the disease and develop new treatments; however, various treatments, including topical creams and light therapy, can help some patients.