PROVIDE ADEQUATE HEALTH CARE AND PROTECTION FOR PERSONS WITH ALBINISM - OTIKO URGED GOVERNMENT
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PROVIDE ADEQUATE HEALTH CARE AND PROTECTION FOR PERSONS WITH ALBINISM - OTIKO URGED GOVERNMENT



Story by Carlos Afanou



The Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation has called on the government and stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health to put the health needs of albinos into maximum consideration; urging the ministry to include sun care products on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to cater for persons with albinism.

Addressing the media in Accra in support of the 2020 International Albinism Awareness Day, the Executive Director of the Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation, Dr. Otiko Afisah Djaba expressed the need for government to prioritize the health needs of albinos and protect them from needless abuse, discrimination and stigmatization as a result of their skin colour.

She explained that , persons with albinism naturally have extremely light and delicate skin which requires special and regular management especially in a hot environment like Ghana.

Dr. Otiko disclosed that most albinos are evicted from their communities, rejected, abandoned or killed by their families and other individuals, an act she insisted constitutes a criminal offense.

As part of his speech, the executive director of Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism (GAPA), Newton Kwamla Katseku lamented on the fact that persons with albinism face multiples of discrimination and human rights abuses which are clearly interrelated beyond reasonable doubt.

He said, "Our right to education, for instance, is affected by our low vision that can force some of us to drop our of school. A poor level of education, in turn, can lead to unemployment and affect our right to an adequate standard of living, consigning many of us to abject poverty."

He continued, "The worst expression of discrimination against persons with albinism is dehumanization, which lays the foundation for physical attacks against us. Because some people believe that persons with albinism are magical beings or ghosts, they either mutilate their body or kill them for rituals."

"These attacks have claimed many lives among persons with albinism, especially in east Africa, and made surviving victims and their families experience severe trauma. Hundreds of ritual attacks against persons with albinism, particularly children, have been reported in many African countries including Ghana without any actions from governments to bring perpetrators to book", he said.

Dr. Otiko grimaced against the negative traditional belief in some places that suggested that it is a taboo and a curse to give birth to an albino. "Why can't we look beyond the fact that they only look different, and thus see their unique qualities and abilities?, she quizzed.

GAPA has called on the government of Ghana to put appropriate measures in place to ensure maximum protection for persons with albinism before, during and after this year's (2020) parliamentary and presidential election, and to enforce the full implementation of the regional albinism action plan adopted by the AU recently.

Again, the government should ratify the African disability protocol and ensure elimination of bad cultural practices of some communities in Ghana that hinders movement of persons with albinism.

Further, they are urging the government to ensure that skin care lotions and cancer drugs and treatment are included in the drugs list of the National Health Insurance Scheme for persons with albinism.

Finally, the government should consider appointing qualified persons with albinism as district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies members, and into positions of trust.
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